STUDIO: Tartan
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
• The Making of Slaughter Night
• Theatrical trailer
• Outtakes

The Pitch

"It’s a horror flick for those who like their terror Amster-dammed!"

The Humans

Victoria Koblenko, Kurt Rogers, Jop Joris, Linda Van Der Steen, Steve Hooi

The Nutshell

Kris Lodema has it all, good friends, loving family, and an impressive rack, until a car crash kills her father and leaves her with inexplicable (and wholly contrived) psychic visions linking her father to long-deceased killer Andries Martiens. Seeking to exorcose her demons, Kris and her friends head out to investigate an abandoned mine where her father was doing research on Martiens. After one night, Kris will finally be able to reconcile her trauma.

But it’s gonna be one hell of a night. A slaughter-based one, if you will.

Okay, sweetie, I think you’re about, say, fifteen years too late for the Evil Dead auditions.

The Lowdown

Talk about a case of shattered expectations.

I figure that Slaughter Night here is going to be your standard, run-of-the-mill foreign film. You know, a lot of verite shaky cam, characters gazing longingly off at nothing, and some bizarre, marijuana-inspired dream sequences (this is a Dutch film, after all). Oh yeah, and since this is a horror film, let’s thrown in a grizzled, half-naked clown into one of those dreams.

She’d better stay abreast of the terror. Get it? A-breast? I got a million of ‘em!

Boy, was I off. Slaughter Night couldn’t be further from all that. The title maybe should have been a cue, but I’m fucking dense like that.

Because, you see, unbeknownst to me, the Dutch can make as good a predictable, formulaic slasher flick as the Sean Cunninghams and Steve Miners of the world. It’s funny, I just saw the almost-brilliant Behind the Mask, which does such a good job of sending up all the Halloweens and Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets, and it could just as easily be talking about Slaughter Night. All the elements are here. The Killer’s Ludicrous Back-story. 15 Minutes of Opening Filler Disguised as Useful Exposition. Survivor Girl. The Slut. The Expendable Comic Relief. The Far-Fetched Family Connection to the Killer. And all surrounded by Jump Scares galore. And if you’re at all familiar with these types of slasher art (and you Chewers should be, what with the reaming Devin’s giving the Friday the 13th series), you’ll know pretty much exactly what’s gonna happen 20 minutes before it does, which, in a movie that runs 90 minutes, gives you enough of a head start to feel like Denzel Washington in Déjà Vu, minus the hot Adam Goldberg action.

Now, that’s not a bad thing. I grew up on slasher flicks, so watching this one was like snuggling under a warm blanket, well sated by the routine of it all. And it’s all routine. I can’t stress that enough. There’s nothing self-referential or arch here, and the filmmaking “skills” on-display certainly don’t elevate this guy to anything more. ‘Bout the only advantage this has over something like Jason or Freddy is that neither of those two speak Dutch, and that’s probably a good thing (in Freddy’s case, that is. I’d hate to miss his crazy puns!! Jason, on the other hand, is a bit of a shy boy. My mom thinks he’s gay). If you’re expecting something fresh and new, seek help elsewhere.

And amusingly enough, it’s this film’s attempts to distinguish itself that make it the lesser of the ‘80s slasher giants. This one throws in a whole supernatural Ring-esque bit of ghost play that just feels like pandering to the J-Horror crowd. We don’t need it, and realistically, how’s a ghost gonna rip people in twain? They’re transparent, people! But that’s a minor fart compared to the distracting, over-cranked shutter-strobe camerawork. I tell you, I’ll defend shutter-strobe more often than not. I think it gives a real visceral crackle to action scenes, and movies like Saving Private Ryan or The Bourne Supremacy (fuck anyone in their stupid ass what thinks otherwise about this one) derive an immediacy from it that’s hard to top.

Problem is, a movie like this comes along, one that looks like a palsy victim filmed it with the zoom jacked way-the-fuck-up, and it fucking destroys my argument. The action scenes in this are atrocious, just jittery and incoherent, and shot so tight (to mask what shitty production values this flick has) that I’d be praying for someone to lose a limb to the baddie so at least then I could glean some idea of spatial geometry. It’s a shame, too, because this movie doesn’t skimp on the gore, but due to the camerawork, that’s sometimes all you see: spraying jets of blood with little sense of what caused it or where it’s spraying from. Come to think of it, the Freddy and Jason movies (the early ones at least) were quite restrained cinematically, almost (dare I say it?) formalist in their approaches to carnage. It’s a take on the old Fred Astaire adage—either the camera dances, or I do. Except replace “dance” with “gut nubile teen,” and you’ve the right idea. This flick would do well to follow this idea, but alas, it does not.

US-1. Dutch-0.

Those gripes aside, this is still a traditionalist slasher flick through and through. It may not be the best, or even the most inventive in terms of kills, but Goddammit, it’ll do.

The years have not been kind to Mena Suvari.

The Package

The picture quality was extremely inconsistent. This is a DVD-9, and as a result there was a lot of pixilation and clipping (especially during the more fast paced scenes). It’s watchable, to be sure, but watchable, at times, in the same way YouTube picture quality is watchable. Sound is much better, and it’s got to be, in order to support the many jump scare music cues—my new DTS hook-up kicks in big time for this one. The box is genius, in my opinion. You put a bloodied girl with a shotgun on the cover, and I’m fuckin’ there. It could be Judi Dench holding one for Tea with Mussolini, and I don’t even care—I’ll watch it.

Special features are pretty slim. You got an outtakes reel that isn’t funny, and a short “making of” where the participants talk about how original and distinct the flick is. Delusion, thy people are the Dutch. Also, shooting in a mine does not earneth my sympathy.

For the less discerning slasher fan (such as myself), this’ll fit the bill on a Friday night. The production values are shoddy, the acting is cheesy, and the direction lacks focus—it’s DTV goodness all the way. For those who require a bit more out of their psycho killer…well, it’s in Dutch? That do it for you?

"This shit just got real."

6.5 out of 10