Slash (2002)

Slash (2002)

All this farm needs is a little new….BLOOD

While visiting his estranged father’s farm for his aunt’s funeral, a lead singer and his band get stuck there when their bus breaks down. Someone then begins to kill off the band to celebrate the ‘Blood Harvest’ in which it is believed that spraying blood over the local crops will give a good yield.

 

I don’t want to sound too anti-American but over the years, I’ve found that foreign horror films tend to be a bit better than your run-of-the-mill American cookie cutter offerings. Despite sticking to the same generic conventions, foreign directors often splice their films with something a little extra – some sort of reflection of national culture where you can. Unfortunately a lot of them also tend to go out of their way to make their films as Americanised as possible so that they can appeal to the American audience. Slash is the first South African slasher made and quite possibly the first film I’ve seen made by that country. But if I had no inclination of this fact thanks to the helpful information on IMDB, I could have easily taken it as another low budget American slasher.

For some reason, Slash decides to set itself in the American mid-west, completing ignoring its own South African roots and opportunities that the locations in its own country would have created. A couple of reasonably familiar actors are imported over from the States to anchor the film. Then the clichés are rolled out one after another with no hint of international flavour. Granted the settings look good – the farmhouse looks creepy at night, there is a spooky forest nearby and of course, any film which shows shots of cornfields and scarecrows at night deserves extra marks because they add instant fear factor to the film. It’s just a shame that the fact that it’s a South African production has no bearing on the style of the film at all.

The cast of characters is full of the usual slasher fodder: a couple of stoners; token black guys who think that everyone has a problem with him because of his skin colour; dodgy backwoods hicks; you know the rest by now. Lead actor James O’Shea is boring as the lead singer and none of the other younger cast members make any sort of impression with their limited roles. Steve Railsback adds a touch of class to the proceedings as the token experienced head on board. Nick Boraine as Billy Bob (now there’s a stereotypical redneck name if ever I heard one) was also pretty good in his role. These two guys know how to milk the backwoods redneck stereotype and they play it for all it is worth.

The killer isn’t the most menacing psycho ever to grace slasher lore either but the mask itself is awesome. It looks like some sort of metallic scarecrow and is one freaky-looking mask. Couple that with the scythe and cowboy hat and he looks like he has just walked off the set of Jeepers Creepers. Despite a few red herrings, there are clearly only three people in the entire film that the killer could have been and the final reveal is about as ‘meh’ as possible. The death scenes aren’t up to much even though the killer sports a kick-ass scythe and most of them happen off-screen, resulting in a distinct lack of the red stuff. Sometimes this can work in a film’s favour but when the rest of the film is a generic as this, the gore is the only thing that slasher fans have to look forward to and this film robs fans of that chance. And speaking of things that slasher fans look forward to, there is no nudity here whatsoever. A criminal decision but considering how weak the rest of the traditional slasher elements are, this was to be expected.

 

Despite the novelty of being South African, Slash is the same film you’ve seen countless times before with the staple elements of the genre being watered down to almost non-existent levels. It’s slash without the panache! A worrying trend in modern slashers by robbing the audience of the things they expect to see, it’s only a matter of time before the backlash is felt.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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