Slaughter Night, or SL8N8 (In Dutch, “8” is pronounced differently, so in Dutch, pronouncing SL8N8 would sound eerily close to “Slaughter Night”) as it’s known in other countries, is a puzzling film. Not because it’s terribly hard to follow or anything like that, but because it seems to switch, at random, from greatness, to mediocrity, to “meh”, and back again.
Why? Fuck if I know. Maybe it has something to do with being a foreign film. Foreign films often have very different concepts of how movies tick. Maybe it’s the directors. (Yup, there were two. They were also the writers.) Having two people at the helm of a film could get a bit confusing. Or maybe it was a clever trick to try and emulate both the redeemable qualities and flaws of the 80’s slasher flicks Slaughter Night was so obviously inspired by.
However, whatever the problem may be, what we DO get, is a heavy-handed, sometimes sloppy, but overall EXTREMELY fun 80 minutes of horror. We start with a flashback to what appears to be the 1800’s (?), introducing us to our killer. This is effective and well-shot, and serves as a nice jumping off point since it’s also unexpected. After that, Kris (our heroine, who’s attractive as the day is long. Jesus Christ.) and her cronies are introduced to us at a techno club. Kris then loses her dad in a car crash that same night, with her in the car when it happens. As it turns out, pops worked in some mine in Belgium, and some of his belongings are there. ROAD TRIP!!!!! Kris and her posse take a little drive up there, presumably to stop by for a quick second while Kris (who seriously, is so fucking cute it’s criminal) picks up her old man’s trinkets. They get talked into taking a tour of the mine, which turns out to be more of a “haunted” mine tour, with a past that ties into the killer we saw in the flashback that opened the film. Things go awry with the little innocent tour, and we’re off and running into some slasher mayhem.
Yeah, it’s a lot to take in. Personally, I like the fact that the movie tried to build up this legend of the killer, and the movie should be commended for spending a large amount of its first and second act trying to give depth and validity to both its characters and its bulky storyline. Also, the killer isn’t what or who you think he is. I won’t ruin the gimmick here, because I think it’s a novel and interesting idea, but it’s something I haven’t seen used quite this way before, and it’s another point in the “good” column.
So far, so good, no? Well its not all rainbows and unicorns. About 45-50 minutes into the dance, when the shit really begins to hit the fan, a little thing we reviewers like to call “shaky cam” rears its ugly head. Yup, remember in the Bourne Supremacy, when every action scene was ruined because Paul Greengrass (the director) had to do super close zoom shots and shake the camera while Matt Damon was kicking the shit out of like 5 guys? Its not that bad, but its close. You can still see everything that’s going on, and the gore (which is spectacular by the way, no CGI here folks. All practical, Savini-style.) and violence stay in focus well-enough, but its damn annoying.
As well as the “shaky cam” making its was into the movie, so does teleportation and incorrect uses of fades to black. Instead of fading to black, when say, the killer is outside and needs some time to get back into the mine to chase after the remaining young and attractive people, it fades to black when someone is simply turning a corner to walk down a different hallway. Hence, the killer, in one scene, is outside, and then magically, IN THE VERY NEXT SCENE, is inside, with no indication any time has passed. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it makes you scratch your head and wonder why they didn’t just use a fade to black THERE, when it would have made sense, instead of throwing them in when they are completely unneeded.
Even with it’s shortcomings though, Slaughter Night still has two things going for it more horror should strive to obtain, atmosphere and heart. One scene in particular, when our heroine Kris (Please…please marry me) is having trouble sleeping over the loss of her father, the house seems to be playing tricks with her, and it shows that the directors (or at least one of them) knows how to construct some creepiness even in an ordinary situation like being in a house at night. As for the heart I mentioned, this movie is a love letter to the days of horror’s past and those who wish it would return to form. Those who will flock to it will be fans of the old-school slashers who don’t mind some errors with their bloodletting. The gore, as i previously mentioned, is of top quality. The kills aren’t mind-shattering in their creativity, but solid in there execution (he he) even if they are filmed with “shaky cam”, and the pacing ensures boredom never comes to those who take a chance on it.
Keep your expectations somewhere in the middle for this one, and you’ll most likely get a big kick out of Slaughter Night.
Victoria Koblenko plays Kris in the film. She also plays my wife in my dreams.