More blasts from the past as I clear out a backlog of reviews of films you probably shouldn’t waste your time watching unless you are like me and just like watching bad films. Today’s film is SLASHERS, a direct-to-video horror flick reportedly made on an $150,000 budget. In the film, the most watched show in Japan is a live reality show titled “Slashers” where viewers watch as contestants are voluntarily placed in a funhouse type maze they must navigate for a cash prize. Hindering their progress are characters called Slashers that pursue the contestants ensuring they are not able to collect their winnings by making them suffer bloody, violent deaths to the delight of the viewing audience. SLASHERS takes place at the beginning of the show’s very first all-American edition and to help celebrate this special occasion the producers are populating the maze with two of the nastiest Slashers in their arsenal, Chainsaw Charlie and Dr. Ripper, while also introducing a brand new Slasher called The Preacherman. Will any of the contestants survive this special episode by outwitting the Slashers and collect the $12 million prize? You’ll probably have fallen asleep long before you find out.
Plagued by a plethora of distribution and financing problems, director Maurice Devereaux was finally able to get his micro-budget horror film out to the public. The idea of reality television continually pushing the envelope until one day evolving into people killing each other for entertainment is not a new one. The concept has been explored with films such as RUNNING MAN, SERIES 7 and even video games like MANHUNT. In this vein, Maurice Devereaux does an ok job at delivering the tired, ham-fisted message of the possible evils of reality tv and just how far people are willing to go for some dough. But does SLASHERS add anything new to this concept? Not much, unfortunately. In an attempt to make the show seem more like an actual live television show, Devereaux films SLASHERS using a video camera in a ‘one take’ style ala ROPE, the premise being you are seeing exactly what the cameraman is seeing as he follows the contestants throughout the maze.
Some innovation and originality does peek through at times, especially the way commercial breaks are handled. Contestants and Slashers alike must hold their respective positions they were in at the beginning of a commercial break and wait for it to finish before resuming. I also liked how a contestant could increase their odds of surviving by revealing details of their personal lives. If you are attractive, you can show also some skin to buy yourself some favorable odds. If a contestant wants guaranteed immunity from death until the next commercial break, they can simply have sex on camera. Performing these types of actions increases the show’s ratings as well as swaying the audience’s feelings towards certain contestants. How the audience feels about the players is a very important factor in winning as if a contestant finds that the viewers do not like them for some reason, the probability of them meeting a Slasher in the maze increases greatly.
There was also the fact that each of the three Slashers featured – Chainsaw Charlie, Preacher Man and Dr. Ripper – all have their own theme song that plays whenever they are on camera. I thought this was a nice touch that echoed the way larger-than-life wrestlers are introduced before a match and touched on the subject that is not fully explored in the film; the way certain factions of the public treat criminals as celebrities.
So what starts off as a pretty interesting concept starts wearing thin pretty quickly as we get to know the contestants and their motivations for participating. This is done by long, boring conversations acted out in some stunning examples of just how bad acting can get. If there’s a lowest rung on the acting ladder, these actors have both feet on it. Honorable mention goes to Sarah-Joslyn Crowder for the worse performance EVER in a horror film, as well as Sofia de Medeiros for the funniest face made during a serious death scene. But in their defense, they were spouting some pretty shitty dialog during long takes. The Slasher characters faired better, the mask-wearing Chainsaw Charlie (Neil Napier) and Dr. Ripper (Christopher Piggins) were performed with campy glee and are a tad better than actors found in your local Halloween Haunted Hay Ride. For those of you going into the film hoping to find some gore, you’ll find it in the form of decapitations, impalings, eye gougings, and chainsaw disembowelments. Sadly, they’re so cheaply executed that they create some pretty unintentionally funny moments.
Too bad Maurice Devereaux didn’t explore more interesting aspects of a reality show that featured people being murdered for entertainment and decided to stay focused on the contestants themselves. Because of this, SLASHERS ends up being what no movie should ever be regardless of budget or genre — mind-numbingly boring.
Rating:Tags: Horror, movie, review, Video