Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Slaughter Night (2006)

Fear 2/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 3/5

I contend that everything that needed to be done, said and explored within the slasher sub-genre has already taken place with the films that came out in the late 70's and those through the whole of the 80's. Every twist, every different take on the boogeyman or someone coming back to exact revenge has been exhausted, ad infinitum. Sure there are exceptions with films that have challenged conventions, Scream and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon being the most notable. But really, at its heart, its still the same ol' thing. And if you say films like Hatchet and The Hills Run Red have something new and fresh to add to the mix, I'd argue differently as they are simply retreads (not to mention completely dull and boring). And don't get me started on Laid to Rest. Much to my surprise, this Dutch film actually has something new to offer despite a pretty damaging flaw.

Slaughter Night starts off like most: after a deadly car wreck in which she is the only survivor, a grieving daughter takes a trip out to the countryside with a group of her douchey friends. Her father was a writer and had been finishing up research for a novel about an old mine now turned museum with a sordid past. After collecting some of his belongings at his office near the mine, she's invited by the curator to take a tour of it. Her friends happy to oblige, they start off on the trek with a trusty tour guide leading the way.

After making their way down into the mine, the guide proceeds to talk about its history. Back in the old days, when a mine worker used his Toucan Sam and sniffed out a gas leak, they would send convicted criminals in to ignite a fire to burn the gas. They were wrapped in garments drenched in water and armed with a lantern. If they ignited the fire and the ensuing fireball didn't kill them, and they lived to tell the tale, they were freed. What a deal!

One man was believed to have made it through the ordeal but his body was never found. Its believed that his spirit still resides within the old mine. Who is this man? As we see at the beginning of the film, and as relayed by the tour guide, he was a soldier that came home from war only to find that both of his parents had died. Leaving him nothing from the family's fortune, he became infuriated and later, obssessed with the black arts. So enveloped was he by his connection to it, he believed that by ritualistically sacrificing people, he could pass over into hell where he was convinced that his parents resided. Only then would he be able to take his just revenge. A particularly grisly scene is showed at the beginning of the film when he first attempts to do this, severing and mounting the heads of little children.

After making their way through the underground mine, our touring group proceeds to the elevator shaft only to find that the controls aren't working. The guide tells them that by this time, the staff has left for the day so he will have to scale a ladder which leads to an emergency exit. He instructs the kids to stay put. Now, you're probably asking yourself, 'Why don't the kids just follow him?' Its a slasher movie, the 'smart' one always leaves the kids behind as fodder. Uh, der. So what do you suppose the kids do to pass the time? They bust out a ouija board that the girl found in her fathers office, booze it up and pop some ecstasy of course. Time to get this party started!

The kiddos start playing around with the board and apparently come into contact with both the supposed spirit trapped in the mine and the girl's dead father. As the kids start bickering back and forth about whether or not they are really talking to spirits of departed peeps, another one of the girls in the group gets the hippy hippy shakes and starts going into convulsions. When she comes out of it, she lets out a demonic roar, strikes another gal with a rock across her skull and runs off, disappearing somewhere within the mine. The guide? The ladder gives way, causing him to fall to the ground, and our possessed girl waxes him lickity split. Rut ro, Shaggy.

The girl goes on to take out one of the guys and starts in on another. But he fights back and kills her and the spirit passes out of the body and takes up another host. This continues on throughout the rest of the film with some great tension builds, jump scares and with the mine being effectively used as a great set piece to create atmosphere. As the body counts rise, with the ritual almost close to being complete, the spirit takes on the visage of his old self, wrapped in garments and confronting our last survivors.

The thing I like the most about this film is the rich back story that's given to the spirit of the dead man who's now using the bodies of douchey teens to re-ignite his previously uncompleted ritual. And the concept of the demon passing through the kid's and other victims with each one taking up the spirit's mission, was pretty original. There were also plenty of neato kill scenes that'll keep the gorehounds happy. My only complaint is that the ending is EXTREMELY lackluster, almost as though the filmmakers didn't know how to end things. And it's so bad that it really does detract from the overall effort made up until this point. Still, its better than most slashers coming out nowadays which are being tagged as original or inventive. I had a lot of fun with it.

Cortez The Killer

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Erik said...

Interesting,I actually bought this one a while ago but have yet to watch it.Maybe I will give it a whirl.

Cortez The Killer said...

A lot of fun with really great pacing. But the ending was such a letdown. This might put off some folks, but overall, it was still pretty entertaining as a modern slasher with at least something new to offer.

Geof said...

Cortez - I read through to the fourth paragraph and then skipped it and added to my queue. I'm extremely interested in seeing this now.

Carl (ILHM) said...

I hadnt even heard of this one before, but with a 5/5 for gore and a review like that I added it up on all the wishlists! Thanks for the heads up man