APRIL 5, 2009
Now that I’m halfway through the After Dark offerings for this year, I feel confident in saying that it’s the best of the three. The remaining four films would all have to be the worst movies I’ve ever seen for me to think otherwise. Because so far, Slaughter is the “worst” of the ones I’ve seen, and it’s not even all that bad. Then again, last time around, Lake Dead (the worst of the lot) was one of the last ones I watched too, so maybe I just have good luck picking the order. We shall see...
Anyway, the biggest problem with Slaughter is that it takes far too long to get to its point. I found myself muttering “is this even a horror movie?” more than once in the first two acts, which is kind of a problem when the story isn’t particularly interesting to make up for the lack of genre elements. There’s a girl coming out of a shitty relationship, and another girl who has an abusive father and is more or less a slampig, and they meet-cute and ride horses and hang out around their farm and talk about fireflies... You know a movie is in trouble when the most engaged I get with what is happening onscreen is when a character produces a rather odd-looking bottle of root beer (I collect glass root beer bottles - I don’t have one like theirs!).
And then BAM! Shit starts to go down. I won’t spoil what it is, but suffice to say it’s certainly different, and not quite what I was expecting. The ending is also impressively grim, always a plus with me. Not that I’m a dark and depressing person, but so many horror movies these days take the safe routes with their endings, it’s so damn refreshing to see one that takes the “Sorry, audience! Go home feeling miserable!” route. And there's some decent suspense, plus some truly disturbing acts of violence (dished out, and inflicted upon oneself) which are almost enough to make up for some its faults in the first hour.
One of those faults is repetition. It seems the two girls go out to a club every 16 seconds in this movie. At one point one of them suggests going there (again), using the excuse that “It’s Saturday!” Either there’s some Groundhog Day shit going on, or the excuse was as flimsy as “We’re both alive.” Also, they live on an isolated farm, but a large city (Atlanta, I think?) seems to be a ten minute drive away.
Also, the movie opens with the “Inspired by True Events” claim, which is worth absolutely nothing. Every movie ever made was inspired by something. I bet Graham Yost was on a bus once that was stuck in traffic and began wondering what would happen if it was forced to move. And viola! He was “inspired” to write Speed, the most preposterous film ever made. Needless to say, I cannot find any news articles or whatever that could have served as the inspiration for this movie.
Nor is it mentioned on the 30 minute making of, but to be fair I kind of zoned out for parts of it. Writer/director Stewart Hopewell is much younger than I expected, and it’s clear that he is a capable and thoughtful director (I can only assume that the film’s ugly transfer is a result of poor mastering and not his preference). It’s also interesting to see a man write/direct a film in which the only likable characters are women (fairly well-written ones at that). This may not be my favorite movie of the year, but I’d definitely watch his next film, horror or not. There are also a few deleted scenes, nothing you’ll miss. No commentary again, which is odd. Dying Breed has one on the overseas release, and you almost NEVER see an independent film with one writer/director that doesn’t have a track. Maybe AD/LG assumes no one besides me is listening to the damn things anymore?
Forgive the vagueness of this review - I figure most of you haven't seen it yet, and to talk about what I liked would be spoiling it. I think if you go in knowing that it's a slow burn, you might enjoy it. If not, well, it's still better than Lake Dead. At least give it that much!
What say you?