In Twentieth Anniversary Screening, author Jeff Strand chronicles the tragic history of a terrible 1991 slasher movie titled The Roofer. Written like a retrospective article on a horror news website, the story recounts the bloody history of events surrounding the film.
A 2021 Bram Stoker Award nominee for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, Twentieth Anniversary Screening is basically “a long-winded analysis” of The Roofer delivered in a mockumentary style. The story reports the fates of a diehard fan, an extreme hater, a serial killer, and an aging actress.
The Roofer, of course, is about a roofer who uses roofing tools to kill his victims. Try to wrap your head around that plot. Anyway, the movie is only remembered because an obsessed fan tried to reenact the murders inside a Cincinnati theater as the film played on screen.
Twenty years later, the rundown theater’s new manager Cyrus Bloomington tries to create buzz and revive business with an anniversary screening of The Roofer. By the way, Cyrus is my favorite character in the book because his quotes to the media are hilariously wince-inducing.
Twentieth Anniversary Screening is divided into four parts.
Part One offers a deep dive into the plot of The Roofer and finishes with the obsessed fan’s attempt at a suicidal killing spree.
Part Two fast-forwards 20 years and introduces us to three other main characters: the one actress who agreed to attend the screening, an extreme hater of the 2009 DVD, and a serial killer of homeless people.
Part Three reports on the night of the screening complete with a Q&A starring the lead actress as well as audience reaction to the film.
Part Four explodes into chaos as Murphy’s law kicks into high gear for everyone involved. Part Four also features my favorite quote from former theater manager Cyrus Bloomington: “I do think that without three psychopaths being in the audience, it would have been a really fun event and everybody would’ve gone home happy, but the psychopaths were there and that’s just the way it is.”
Twentieth Anniversary Screening is fun, fun, fun as Strand flexes his well-toned comedic muscle to lift a slasher retrospective to the level of instant horror-comedy classic.