Written by: Jörn Döring and Frank W. Montag
Directed by: Frank W. Montag
Starring: Christiane Imdahl, Christian Stock, and Pia de Buhr
Reviewed by: Brett G.
”Yeah, just like a slasher flick…”
Germany obviously has been no stranger to the horror genre, with its roots stretching all the way back to the Expressionist era of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, and Faust; in more recent times, its underground horror scene, spearheaded by shockers such as Nekromantik and Violent Shit, has earned a certain amount of notoriety among genre fans. Hell, the country was even responsible for the Jess Franco-helmed and American body count film-inspired Bloody Moon. There’s been a few more German slashers within the last decade or so (School’s Out and Anatomy), and stepping into this tradition is the aptly titled Slasher. Unearthed Films appropriately dug this 2007 film up seemingly out of nowhere, and I can’t really say I ever expected a “throwback to the slasher films of the early 80s” to emerge from Germany, despite its storied horror history. If you happen to make it through the film’s 80 minutes of bloody carnage, you’re likely to find a few more unexpected things, for better or worse.
Two lovebirds are gleefully riding down the road; of course, their amorous desires get the best of them, forcing them to pull over to fulfill them. Of course, a chainsaw wielding maniac gets to them first, and hacks them up. We then cut to a university setting, where we find our main characters conveniently being lectured about the case of a cannibalistic, necromantic lunatic that happened not too far away. Expectedly, this lecture is not heeded in the least, and our protagonists (comprised of all the typical slasher stereotypes) head off for a weekend of camping in the woods, with the daily schedule including the usual sex, drugs, rock and roll, campfire tales, and grisly murders being perpetrated by the aforementioned maniac.
At one point during the characters’ campfire shenanigans, the subject of slasher films comes up, with the cast explaining that the stories are always the same, and feature young kids being hacked to death for copulating, drinking, and doing drugs. This bit of self-reflexivity is obviously reminiscent of Scream, a film that could get away with such playfulness, given that it was a better film than most of the films it was referencing. Slasher, on the other hand, practically is one of those films: a cheaply made, low budget shlockfest that delivers everything you’d expect from the body count genre, no matter what decade it is: sex (one couple even manages to consummate their one-day-old relationship twice within ten minutes of the film’s run-time), clichés (the creepy, backwoods family the kids encounter, the fact that the cell phones don’t work and the car runs out of gas at the most inopportune moment, etc.), and of course plenty of grue. More derivative than satiric, Slasher essentially unfolds in a typical fashion, but what do you expect from a film whose killer is an obvious visual combination of Michael Myers and Leatherface and whose score feels as if it were composed on Harry Manfrendini’s 80s synthesizers?
If you’re even halfway familiar with this particular type of picture, this review ought to write itself. Don’t expect good acting, a riveting plot, or excellent direction. Everything here is competent at least, but like most of these films, it struggles to rise above its low budget origins. It looks cheap for obvious reasons, and most of the budget went to the numerous death scenes, which feature quite an array of gore. The film is even so committed to this aspect that it visually narrates one of the characters’ violent campfire tale about a vengeful butcher who kills his adulterous wife and his lover. During the film proper, our killer uses several implements (a chainsaw, an axe, knives) to dispatch of our hapless protagonists, whose bodies are strewn about with little regard. There’s actually one scene that managed to hit a particularly squeamish note for me personally (let’s just say it’s vaginal in nature, and I have an inexplicably weak stomach for such exploits). So if anything, the film did manage to make me squirm out of pure schlock, which is commendable on some base level, I suppose. The killer himself is just as typical as the rest of the film, as he’s got a dark past that involves him being nearly burned to death. It’s also interesting to note that he’s actually wearing a t-shirt bearing the title of the aforementioned Nekromantik, which is certainly the standard-bearer when it comes to sleazy and violent German cinema.
I will say that the film ultimately delivers a twist that sort of separates itself from most slashers of this kind. Unfortunately, the film cheats to get there, as it doesn’t just come out of left field—it comes from a whole different park. There’s literally no way to see it coming, so it’s a shocking twist by default. Of course, it doesn’t do much except to complicate an already messy narrative, which features inane stuff like the idiot kids running around in a grocery store, a sub-plot featuring an incestuous backwoods family that literally goes nowhere, and even a random murder sequence that’s altogether removed from the main plot. It seems as if writer/director Montag shot this scene to assure us that yes, there is a maniac killer on the loose, as if the opening sequence wasn’t confirmation enough.
At the end of the day, however, Slasher is a movie that doesn’t wear out its welcome, as it clocks in at just under 80 minutes. Try as it might with its half-hearted attempts at self-reflexivity and crazy plot twists, deep down, the film itself seemingly knows it exists as an exercise in gratuitous nudity and gore, and I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for films like that. It certainly isn’t fine cinema, but, then again, most of the films in this tradition aren’t. If you absolutely haven’t been satisfied by the abundance of cheap slashers the world has offered up, this one will go down pretty easily. As previously mentioned Unearthed Films and Breaking Glass Pictures will be bringing this one to DVD on May 4th. The screener I received boasted an adequate widescreen transfer that adequately reflected the film’s digital origins, and the German soundtrack was adequate enough. The final product will also include an array of extras, including a making of, a gag reel, a slideshow, outtakes, a visual effects reel, and trailers. It’s not exactly buried treasure that’s been unearthed here, but it is a decent, bloody time-waster for fans of this particular genre. Rent it!
For more information, please visit the Unearthed Films website.
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