Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Slashers (2001)

The concept of this movie is perfect. A Japanese reality show is holding its first all-American special with three psychotic killers hacking up six lucky contestants! Why would anyone participate in such a sick game of life and death? They have the chance to win millions of dollars of course! It's really a brilliant idea with endless potential, and it's obvious the writer/director not only loves horror (he even writes the lead girl as a fan, says she saw every movie, etc.) but also bloody Japanese cinema like Battle Royale (the contestants wear strikingly similar collars... this may just be a coincidence since that Japanese masterpiece of carnage had only been out for a year when Maurice Devereaux released this). The only thing that bothered me about this indie is the acting, and I hate to say that, but it's true. I didn't buy the performances of the contestants. They weren't "wooden" like I see so many people claiming, but they didn't feel real. They just seemed like actors reciting lines instead of genuine people. Still, I have to admit I really like the film. I wish we could see an all-Japanese version of it or even a sequel, remake, etc.

The slashers themselves are fantastic. Doctor Ripper reminds me so much of Dr. Satan, but House of 1000 Corpses wasn't released until 2003 (it was filmed in 2000... yet it seems unlikely Devereaux patented his character after him so early). Regardless, the visual similarity is pretty astounding. Chainsaw Charlie is clearly Leatherface but memorable enough in his own right especially with the twist scene that fleshes him out. Preacher Man is a lot of fun too, playing the evil "holy" man that so often pops up in horror. I just wish Doctor Ripper kept his mask longer but even that insight into the identities of the slashers is interesting.

Some of the special effects leave a little to be desired especially when they show them too much. Fake heads rarely look good, and they linger on a close-up. When the clown stabs a Japanese girl's stomach in the first shot of the movie, be sure not to look down at the knife or else you'll see the clown obviously crushing a blood bag against her skin, which kinda ruins the moment. Later you can plainly see foil on Doctor Ripper's scalpel. Things like these really detract from the movie, but I still like it a lot, and I'd gladly recommend it.

The Steadicam work is extremely impressive. The conceit about trying to make it seem like it's all one shot is kinda neat too, but it's rather obvious that they cheat a lot. You get some random flickering to black, which they could have built into the story a little better by setting up that every so often the lights would go out to add more tension. More cuts might have actually helped in some places. The long shots do add to a couple jump scares though, and they deserve a lot of credit for what they managed to pull off.

I love the Japanese theme song. DJ Slash's line "super fun" is awesome. It makes me laugh and smile every time. Just in that intro, you see how much more they could do with the idea given the chance. I really hope this isn't the end of Slashers especially after seeing Devereaux's follow-up film End of the Line, because I thought that was an excellent movie all-around, and I really liked the performances in it. If he did do another Slashers episode, perhaps with some more time for filming and a bigger budget (maybe an all-Japanese cast), I bet he could really make a classic.

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