“Girl, don’t worry, nothing bad is going to happen.”
I love micro-budget horror movies, rough-edges and all; hell, like rock-n-roll, the rough-edged, take-it-or-leave-it attitude is the point. Alongside pleasures such as refreshing irreverence, a reveling in bad taste, and wild creative abandon, it’s just really cool to see people who love film get out there and make one, budgetary restrictions be damned. Creative people taking their first, brave, sometimes stumbling steps can be genuinely thrilling, and The Slashening is no different.
Made for a paltry six grand, The Slashening is an often hilarious, well acted love letter to one of horror’s keystone genres, the slasher. While there have been many cheaply made odes to slashers, writer/director Brandon Bassham and crew, against budgetary odds, have made a true independent film that punches well above its weight.
The setup is hardly worth mentioning, and could have been drummed up with a quick round of slasher film Mad Libs. (adjective, specifically a number) friends go to (noun) where they indulge in (adjective)(noun)a, (adjective)(noun)b…(adjective)(noun)n, while, unbeknownst to them, a murderous stalker is preying on them, taking them out one by one. Here, it’s five (girl) friends that go to a house where they drink a ton of booze, invite some boys, indulge in drugs (well, one of them does, but she does enough to make up for the rest of the abstainers), invite over some boys, and, well…you know where this is going. Just like everything in life, though, execution is all. Each of these girls is, of course, of a type. We’ve got the druggy, the good girl, the nerd, the slut, and…actually, I’m not sure what archetype party host Eva is, but whatever.
We get a bit of standard urban legend storytelling foreshadowing around a fellow named Rusty Joe as a setup, and if there’s a flaw here, it’s that the setup is mostly devoid of tension, and there’s a bit of space where things are just sort of sitcommy – lots of jokes, which are good, but you can feel the wheels spinning a bit. It’s notable, because unlike some haphazard independent films, Bassham has some great ideas, a good sense of comedic timing and film storytelling. While I haven’t seen any of his other films, it seems like he’s experimenting with adding tools to his filmmaker toobox, and there’s some good stuff here. There’s a cool split screen bit, some great editing, a funny fight filmed creatively, and an epic running joke involving pizza dudes with a great pizza dude wasteland payoff. The acting here is generally great by everyone. The boys – promiscuous Ashley’s horny boyfriend Billy and his nice guy (in the fedora wearing permanent friendzone sense) friend Pat – are genuinely funny and give their all, and when they show up, the film really engages. There’s some great dialog here, and some funny, creative crudities.
The Slashening is fun, funny, and creative where it counts. It’s also eager to please, and would make a fine companion on a late night, especially if you happen to have a few six packs and friends on hand.