A time traveler moves a chair, and the whole timeline is altered. You must have seen this meme online. The new film Totally Killer makes the right choice to not overcomplicate things. Sure, when Jamie Hughes accidentally goes back to 1987, and tries to alter things, a few significant things do get changed, but they are not overwhelmingly altered. Also, her main focus was not to change the romance between her parents when they were in high school, but to stop a serial killer who began his hunt in 1987. See, it’s all a bit complicated, but it could have been disastrous if it hadn’t been handled with care by director Nahnatchka Khan. The idea is great on paper, and with a clear vision for Totally Killer, Khan manages to merge the sci-fi and slasher genres together to come up with great characters.
Jamie Hughes, played by Kiernan Shipka, is so much more than just a ‘Marty McFly’ character. She is traumatized by her mother Pam’s death. Fate offers her a chance, and after she reaches 1987, there arises a possibility of catching the Sweet Sixteen Killer before he can even begin in the small town of Vernon. Let’s take a closer look at Kiernan’s character in Totally Killer.
Kiernan Shipka As Jamie Hughes
The Hughes family was like any other normal family. They got excited at Halloween, but for Pam Hughes, the festivities reminded her of the brutal killing of her friends 35 years ago. Jamie, the only child of Pam and Blake, didn’t know the severity of the impact the killings had on everyone. How could she? She doesn’t belong to that era, where people could get lost and end up dead, victims of a psychopathic killer. According to her point of view, things are relatively safe. That opinion aside, she has a mobile phone, an advanced rape alarm, and a killer pepper spray and she was enrolled in self defence classes. Being the only child, Jamie did enjoy the fact that she could bend her parents to her will. Jamie had a lot of problems with her parents, but she was a good kid, despite the fact that sometimes she talked back very disrespectfully, especially to Pam. Jamie never tried to understand her parents’ concern, as she didn’t think something as dramatic as being hunted by a masked killer could happen to her. But she was proved wrong that very day. Pam was stabbed and killed in the same fashion as three of her friends had been killed 35 years ago. The killer was named Sweet Sixteen because he only hunted 16-year-old girls and stabbed them sixteen times. Jamie drowned in grief and guilt, but what could she do now except weep for her dead mother?
In times of distress, it’s good to have friends. Usually, friends get us into trouble, but Jamie’s case was different. In an indirect way, Jamie got to know the value of having friends with diverse interests. Jamie was blessed to have Amelia, as she had made a time machine that helped Jamie go back to 1987. It didn’t happen the way you might imagine. Jamie didn’t beg Amelia to send her back so she could stop the killer dead in their tracks. After killing his first victim after the 35-year hiatus, the killer was in the mood to make up for lost time, it seemed, as he went after Jamie. Amelia’s time machine (non-functioning!) was kept in the science fair, and Jamie entered it trying to hide from the Sweet Sixteen killer. The killer stabbed the machine, missing Amelia, and through a scientific miracle, the machine worked. Apparently, all it needed was a metal conductor piercing its mainframe.
Jamie was shocked not only by her time travel to the eighties but also by the eighties culture. People smoking like chimneys and schools not paying attention to their students were just two aspects of it. It helped her get admitted to her mother’s school. Here she was, 16, and one of the ‘mean girls.’ Jamie faced seclusion and mockery as she presented herself as a new admission from Canada. She was so overwhelmed by seeing her mother alive, even though she was just sixteen, that she didn’t mind being made fun of. However, she now had the chance to stop the killer. She had information from the future and thought she could predict where the murders were going to happen. If she reached the place and saved the three girls, or better, caught the killer, then that would change the present as well. How she had to go back to 2023 was still unclear, but the motto of ‘first things first’ was being followed.
Through the town’s famous guide and reporter of the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ murders, Chris Dubasage, Jamie knew the time and place of the murders. The first victim was Tiffany, but Jamie, even after knowing the time and place of the murder, couldn’t save her. It turns out that she made tiny changes to the space-time continuum during her stay in this timeline. Tiffany was found dead in the exact same fashion, but the chronology was altered. Now Jamie couldn’t predict who was next. The side project was to not let the teen Blake hook up with Pam. That was one thing that could seriously change her 2023 timeline. Pam and Blake in the original timeline had got together only in college, but Jamie was seeing this fact getting altered right in front of her eyes.
Jamie, seeing herself fail on every front, saw Heather die as well. Pam and Blake had become a couple, and there was still no clue who the killer actually was. It was great to have Amelia’s mother, Lauren, in this timeline, as she was working on her time machine to send Jamie back. There was the obvious suspect, Damon, or as everyone called him, ‘Lurch.’ Jamie followed him because of his quiet demeanor and spooky eyes. But it turned out that Damon was a sweetheart. He was like her in a way, shunned by his peers. There were cool kids like Pam, Tiffany, Heather, Blake, and others, and then there were students like Damon, Jamie, Lauren, and the hall monitor Doug, who were not invited to parties. Jamie couldn’t change their attitudes altogether, but at least voiced her opinions on their elitist approach and regressive attitude.
Two of the original three victims of the Sweet 16 killer had already died. Time was running out, and Jamie decided to get everybody’s help. Claiming herself to be a psychic, she predicted the third murder, that of Marisa. The Sweet Sixteen Killer was finally killed by the group, and there was Doug behind the mask. Lauren had to get her back to the time machine as time was running out. The secret to making the machine work was Jamie’s phone, and its battery was about to run out. Interestingly, the killer in the 2023 timeline was someone else, and he, too, had time-traveled to the 80s timeline. So even though Doug was dead, the killing continued, and Marisa ended up dead. All three of the original murders had occurred, and now Pam was in trouble as well. Jamie was inside the time machine running away from the second killer, and Pam arrived to save her. Just seconds before the time machine activated to send Jamie and the killer back to the 2023 timeline, Jamie managed to get Pam outside the time machine and shoot the killer, thus ensuring that Pam survived. She had made quite significant changes to the timeline, and when she returned, she found out her name was, in fact, Colette. She had an older brother named Jamie, who had come out as gay and had his own family. Through her time in the 80s, she realized that time is precious and each and every moment spent with loved ones should be cherished. Pam was alive and well, and Jamie didn’t mind the changes to her reality. After all, there was another loved one added to the list.