There are lots of ways to tell when you’re in good hands while watching a movie. It might be the casting, or the lighting, or the clever dialogue in the script. It might be the way the film plays with genre, or the way it catches you off guard with smart plotting. For horror fans, all of these things can be true, but it’s often just as important t

o feel the people who made the film you’re watching don’t just love the genre, but luxuriate in it. Founders Day, the new slasher flick from Erik and Carson Bloomquist, is one of those movies that makes you feel that.

If you’re a longtime devotee of the horror genre, and a particular fan of slasher films, you’ll find a small-scale whodunit packed with love for all the movies that came before it, and you’ll find that love is infectious. And if you’re not a slasher nerd, don’t worry, this entertaining, wicked little movie can still win you over, even if it might take you a little longer to find its particular groove.

The “Founders Day” of the title is a local celebration in the small town of Fairwood, where residents are also planning for a particularly heated mayoral election that pits the incumbent Mayor Gladwell (Amy Hargreaves, having a ball) against the upstart challenger Harold Faulkner (Jayce Bartok). Gladwell is running on a platform of “consistency,” while Faulkner is promising “change,” and their heated contest has the whole town on edge. So it probably doesn’t help when a maniac in a black robe and a gruesome, powdered-wig-topped Founders mask comes hunting for victims.

To make things even more tense, the killer seems to be targeting the kids close to each mayoral candidate. A couple of local teenagers are trying to get to the bottom of things: Allison (Naomi Grace), who lost her girlfriend in the killings, and Adam (Devin Druid), who lost his sister, are each doing their best to unmask the murderer for the good of their families and the whole town. But what they find when they dig deeper is something neither of them expects.

If you take a moment to piece the ingredients together here—robed and masked killer, sleepy town, murdered teenagers, whodunit—you might recognize them from several major slasher films, most notably Scream, and it’s here that Founders Day starts to get especially interesting.

The Bloomquist brothers (Erik directed, and both Erik and Carson wrote the script) clearly know their stuff, right down to their use of a cocky local cop (Catherine Curtin doing scene-stealing work) and the local bad boy (Tyler James White) who might be a killer or might just be a rebel for the sake of rebelling. The Bloomquist’s are experts in these ingredients, and when they bring them together, they’re both paying tribute to films that came before and setting themselves up to go their own way with certain familiar bits of slasher etiquette. It helps, of course, that all those familiar pieces are executed well, from the witty dialogue to the design of the killer’s mask to, of course, the kill scenes that make great use of jump scares and creeping slasher dread. Founders Day might not have the budget of some of its fellow slashers, but it has the heart, and the craft, to make all these things work.