★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Super Hot is a film that has been popping up on my recommended list on Amazon Prime, so I gave the little nerds vs. vampires movie a shot. Kandace Kale is solid as the goofy deadpan lovelorn lead, and at its best, the movie has its fun and silly moments. On the whole, though, it’s a pretty pedestrian production. (Shrugs)
Directed by Taylor King
Call it an impulse purchase. I stumbled across the trailer for Super Hot on the Amazon suggestion list, and I found it amusing enough to give it a watch, as it was free with my Amazon Prime subscription. Super Hot is a bit of misdirection of a title, as it refers to the pizza joint where Jackie (Kandace Kale), an awkward and geeky young woman is finishing out her service as a pizza delivery driver. She is in love with her neighbor, Carmen (Sierra Michelle), but hasn’t yet got the nerve up to properly admit her feelings. But before she can muster up the gumption to come clean, Carmen announces that she’s moving into a sorority.
Jackie and her besties, Sam (Elijah Cooke) and Kevin (Colson Berlin), in between nerd-out discussions of re-casting Avengers movies and playing video games, have devised a way to win Carmen back, by using the pizza delivery job as a way into the sorority house. Unbeknownst to him, the house full of young beauties also happens to be a den of vampires, in need of a virgin sacrifice.
They are made wise to this situation by a Japanese descendent of the legendary Van Helsing line of vampire hunters. Armed with this information, Jackie enlists her pals, and Carmen’s Ex, Brad (Sam Watkins) to muster up the courage to rescue the girl of Jackie’s dreams and take down the evil enclave. But the vampire ladies are way ahead of the awkward teens, and the tables get turned as the sorority sisters are preparing to bring back Count Dracula by way of a dark ritual.
This is a very simple and conventional plot. It isn’t even the first Pizza delivery horror film, beaten to the punch by Slice and Satanic Panic in recent (and superior) offerings. That’s not to say that Super Hot is a bad movie. The protagonists are all doofy and borderline adorable, and Kale makes for a very unconventional lead, which often gets played by a male nerdy character. We’ve seen this kind of thing before with movies ranging from Weird Science to Blood Fest to well… Satanic Panic (again), but this time it’s the girl who is the awkward loser who wants to get the girl.
Lissa Carandang-Sweeny is a very pretty adversary, Monica, and she plays a fine mean girl, but she lacks any true menace as the lead vampiress. The other vampires are similarly attractive but are neither alluring nor vicious enough to feel like a real threat. I did appreciate the race swapping of Van Helsing (Nabuaki Shimamoto), perhaps the most audacious element of the film. All the true nerds out there will appreciate the depths of name-dropping of Comicon-ready easter eggs that get placed in the movie, so it can be enjoyed for the cultural appropriation of the geek scene.
There are some laugh-out-loud moments and there is a lot of earnestness in the performances, but this is fairly fluff fare. The villains needed to be played up more, and when the movie was at its best, with the social anxiety of the awkward nerds feeling like they have a real chance with the pretty girls, the movie should have really amplified the social gulf between the groups. There is one great gore segment, but the lion’s share of the practical effects look like obvious silicone castings, and greater attention should have been paid to the props department, the bloody stumps shouldn’t look like they came out of the mannequin factory.
The movie also has some noticeable dead time that bog the film down. There are moments when the characters are driving around which just feels like time-filler material. Again, I would have appreciated greater attention to the nefarious plans of the vampire sorority. Swap some villainous plotting for dead time driving, and the film would have been much punchier, both comedically and horror thematically. If you like this sort of concept, I highly recommend the more visceral and horrifying movie Pledge, and the better-executed horror-comedy screenplay of Satanic Panic.
In the end, the film has earned a nod and a shrug. It’s cute, quirky, and the interplay between the friends is great, but as a horror film it is decidedly pretty lightweight. It is certainly worth your time with the free Amazon Prime offering… you can’t beat free.