“Slashers” is a low-budget Two Guys in a Room movie, where much of the film (as the name may imply) consists of two guys sitting in a room and talking endlessly about something insignificant to chew up running time. At over 90 minutes, “Slashers” has plenty of scenes were characters do nothing but stand in a room and talk endlessly about nothing in order to chew up running time. Unfortunately “Slashers” is also a splatter horror film, which would seem to be the one genre not conducive to Two Guys in a Room filmmaking.
And sure enough, “Slashers'” biggest fault is its own ambitions. Yet another take on “extreme” Reality TV ala “Series 7”, “El Nominado”, and “My Little Eye”, “Slashers” introduces us to a Japanese game show where contestants battle three “slashers” in an elaborate maze-like “danger zone”, with the survivor winning millions. The film opens with a parody of Japanese game shows, complete with quirky Japanese hostess Miho (Claudine Shiraishi) introducing us to the rules of the game. If you’ve seen Spike TV’s relaunch of Takeshi Kitano’s “Takeshi’s Castle” (aka “MXC”) then you know what I’m talking about.
Having made its way Stateside, the Japanese game show is launching its first-ever all-American show, and soon we meet our motley crew of contestants. Megan (Sarah Joslyn Crowder), a social activist who looks to be in dire need of a bathroom break; ex-boxer and all-around badass Devon (Tony Curtis Blondell); and four meat — er, contestants. It’s eventually revealed through those long conversations between two people in rooms (get the idea?) that the contestants all have reasons for being on the show. Not that it matters, since this is a low-budget splatter film, and all the audience really cares about is the blood and guts.
Right off the bat you know “Slashers” is either going to irritate you to no end or offer something approaching a guilty pleasure. Its low-budget origins are obvious from the very first frame, with the whole thing shot on a constantly moving DV. Maurice Devereaux’s decision to shoot the entire film from the cameraman’s POV goes hand in hand with the film’s ambitious screenplay. Of course the biggest problem, and the reason why Devereaux’s “society is going to hell and we’re just letting it happen” themes are so obvious as to be condescending, is that his actors are terrible.
For those seeking a reason to put “Slashers” in their guilty pleasure column, the gore is pretty decent, and Devereaux, although supposedly shooting the entire film with a single long take (not really, but that’s the idea), manages some interesting kills. One woman gets chainsaw’ed in half through a wall, and a couple of contestants meet the wrong end of a hedge clipper. The script also gets points for creativity. Whenever the slashers are about to make their kill, the show orders everyone to stay in place while they cut to a commercial, as to give the audience an incentive to return. If someone moves during the commercial break, a metal collar around their neck shocks them.
There are also some funny stabs at the expense of Japanese game shows, especially since the truth is, you just know those guys aren’t far away from this type of show. In another great gag, the slashers are always disrobing their victims, having been instructed by the producers to titillate the audience. Also, whenever a female contestant is cornered and facing certain death, she can get a respite by flashing her twin assets at the camera. Those are the kinds of inspired gags that make “Slashers” a worthwhile kick.
As a low-budget horror film, you really can’t fault “Slashers” too much for its lack of good actors, and you can’t really put all the blame on lead actress Crowder, since the character, as written, is inexcusably annoying. But if you can pretend that the Megan character doesn’t exist, then “Slashers” has moments that’ll make you grin.
Maurice Devereaux (director) / Maurice Devereaux (screenplay)
CAST: Sarah Joslyn Crowder …. Megan Lowry
Kieran Keller …. Michael Gibbons
Tony Curtis Blondell …. Devon White
Jerry Sprio …. Rick Fisher
Neil Napier …. Chainsaw Charlie and Preacherman