There’s a killer on the loose. He’s a hulking brute of a monster who’s quickly established himself as a menace to certain citizens of New York city. This serial killer is racking up the bodies and no one knows where he will strike next. 

As this killer operates in the realms of the horror universe, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he is targeting college kids; those who engage in sex, drink or drugs or anyone who stumbles across his domain or lair. Hey, this approach worked for Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and a slew of others, so surely it should work for this beast too, but alas, no. Instead, this killer, who has been dubbed ‘Poundcake’, is targeting cis white men, and he’s killing them off in one of the worst ways possible. 

‘Poundcake’, who is decorated in a dirty orange shirt and matching black gimp mask and uses a chain to choke his victims before killing them in a manner that will make most people wince. The only sign of his impending carnage is that the victims’ smartphones freeze, distort and cease to work. 

The talk of cis white men being brutally killed is discussed greatly on podcasts and around dining room tables; these conversations ultimately spill out into a wider discourse about race, gender, privilege, (positive) discrimination, virtue signalling, identity, cancel culture and more. Most of the action is shaped around the various dialogues, interviews and interactions in the midst of the murders that take place. The podcasters speculate about the hows and the whys of the killings whilst trying to espouse their own moral ideology on the events, which range from gallows humour to conspiracy theories. The various residents of New York also try and take on board what is happening in their city whilst handling their own insecurities, thoughts and beliefs – with many having their own flaws and hang ups.

Even though cis white men are being picked off by ‘Poundcake’, the victims aren’t sexual predators, bullies or narcissists, and none of the men are especially evil - misguided and ignorant maybe - but not inherently bad. Eventually, Poundcake targets men who do nothing to deserve their fate – one fitness instructor is killed after refusing to sleep with the person he is training because he is in a position of power. As it becomes clearer that some of the victims are genuinely innocent, attitudes – among some – begin to change, but how can this fractured community join forces to derail an unstoppable killer? 

Poundcake is drenched in satire and it doesn’t try to hide how over the top it is. However, despite the method of death, this anarchic tale is light on the gore and heavy on the dialogue, and the murders are very much secondary to the constant back-and-forth political and cultural discourse.

The real strength of Poundcake is that it takes a more layered and nuanced approach when addressing the cultural and sociological landmines. It refuses to allow any of the aforementioned themes to be boiled down to a simple binary of good and bad. Instead, ideas and contradictions are stacked on top of each other to present a more delicate architecture of the current climate. Director Onur Tukel has stated that the film is about fear - fear of words, fear of other people’s opinions, fear of irrelevance and fear of sexual identity, and Tukel himself isn’t afraid to make sure fear is directed across the cultural and political spectrum.

The characters weave in and out of each other’s stories and experiences and at times there are one too many sub-plots going on at the same time. One in particular, which partially acts as Poundcake’s epilogue, goes on for too long and is one tangent too many. 

Even though Poundcake is a little all over the place and at times the movie appears to be a series of individual scenes that have been pushed together, the movie does well to highlight that not everything is binary and that the labels many are quick slap on one another simply cause more derision without getting to the root of problems in society. Poundcake doesn’t look to fix all society’s ills, but it is willing to throw them all in the air to see where they land.

Movie Score: 3/5 

  • James Doherty
    About the Author - James Doherty

    James is a life-long horror fan since coming across Halloween on late-night TV, when he was 9 years-old. He was too scared to watch it all the way through, so when things got too scary he changed the channel. When he worked up the courage he would switch back to Halloween. This happened several times. He has previously written for GoreZone magazine in the UK and the Evolution of Horror.