It may be a South African product masquerading as a generic cheapo B-movie Teen Slasher, but “Slash” is not your typical — Oh wait, nevermind. “Slash” is your typical Teen Slasher, and the fact that it’s a South African production really doesn’t matter to the story at hand. Having said that, let’s get to our slasher-a-thon, currently in progress.
“Slash” stars James O’Shea as brooding rocker Mac, who gets a message that his aunt has died and he must come back home for the funeral. Unbeknownst to Mac’s bandmates, their lead singer is actually a farm boy who abandoned the family farm when he was young, after a fire killed his grandfather, a man of ill repute. We also learn that the McDonald farm (“McDonald” farm, get it?) was once the sight of a masked killer who went around dressed as a scarecrow and gutting people with a scythe in order to use their blood to irrigate the fields.
Back at the farm, Mac reunites with his spooky father Jeremiah (Steve Railsback) and the farm’s lone helper, Billy Bob (Nick Boraine). After the burial, the city folks head back home, but their van is damaged on the road and they are forced back to the farm. No sooner does the Obnoxious Black Guy wear out his welcome does he get chopped up by a guy wearing a scarecrow uniform, a steel mask, and swinging a scythe. Uh oh. Old MacDonald is back — E-I-E-I-O!
Needless to say, “Slash” isn’t Shakespeare. One can only expect a few things — gratuitous T&A and large helpings of bloodletting. How does “Slash” stack up? For the most part there are a lot of insinuated sex appeal, but nothing to show for it. And I do mean nothing to show for it. The same holds true with the bloodletting. A lot of after-the-fact cadavers and killings shot from a wide angle seem to be the m.o. here. There is actually only one in-your-face kill, and that’s early in the film and has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Which, one suspect, is probably because the filmmakers figured that they skimp on the blood and guts (or at least, the ballsy blood and guts) and decided to add those early kills in.
The movie takes great liberties by throwing a couple of false red herrings at us. To say that they don’t make sense is an understatement. The film mostly plays out like a bad “Afterschool Special”, with brooding Mac brooding the rest of the film and his girlfriend Suzie (Zuleikha Robinson) on an unattractive quest to get some tail. We also get two supposed stoners who apparently have seen way too many bad movies about stoners, and are just copying what they’ve seen. The guys in “Half Baked” did a better job pretending to be stoners than the two yahoos here.
At 90 minutes, “Slash” spends most of its first hour entertaining the notion that it has interesting characters. It’s wrong. Oh, so, so wrong. The Odious Black Guy is annoying; the lead is boring; the female lead is bitchy; and the rest of the crew are — Who knows. I don’t even remember their names. To make things worst, most of them survive their ordeal at Old McDonald’s farm. And yes, the movie really does spend a lot of time making jokes about the farm. One or two jokes would seem enough, but not in this case. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There’s even an in-movie song about Old McDonald’s farm. Can you hear me groaning yet?
One good thing I can say about “Slash” is that writers Francis and Silber probably had a ball writing the script. There are tons of bad puns and wordplay sprinkled throughout the movie. Not bad for a couple of hack writers working on a hack movie. Then again, a funny line here and there certainly doesn’t make up for an uninteresting premise, stale locations, and unlikable characters. The fact that it took so long just to kill these guys off makes it just that much worst.
The other good thing about “Slash” is Nick Boraine, who makes a really effective hillbilly. The script takes liberties with country residents, giving its “hip city rockers” a lot of leeway to call the country bumpkins names and throw insults like the ignorant bastards they think their targets are. In response, the Billy Bob character (what an original name!) is supposed to prove that all hicks aren’t, well, hicks. Maybe not making them so stereotypical, or giving the other characters such wide license to insult them, would have been the better way to go.
“Slash” is just below average. It’s really too bad B-movie filmmakers have started to veer away from what makes these Teen Slasher films worthwhile in the first place.
Where is the T&A? Where is the gratuitous bloodletting? Where are the balls that filmmakers in this genre used to have? These new crop of filmmakers have no guts at all. And as a result all their movies are recycled junk. It’s bad enough they’re all derivative of each other, but now they’re derivative and dull? Good grief. Talk about completely ignoring the expectations of your only audience!
Neal Sundstrom (director) / Stephen Ronald Francis, Gus Silber (screenplay)
CAST: James O’Shea …. Mac
Zuleikha Robinson …. Suzie
Nick Boraine …. Billy Bob
Steve Railsback …. Jeremiah