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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
You know you're in for a good time when a movie not only meets whatever modest expectations you may have for it, but continually surpasses them from the first scene all the way to the last.
Not that SLASHER.COM (2017) is in danger of winning Best Picture or anything, but it does take the lowbrow and often "blah" genre that is its namesake and uses it as the raw material to carve out a finely-hewn piece of cinematic folk art.
A dynamic opening titles sequence recounting the recent slasher murders of St. Louis singles answering lonely hearts ads online leads us to, you guessed it, a couple of strangers hooking up via an online dating service and venturing out into the wilds of Missouri to spend a getting-to-know-you weekend in a secluded cabin.
Right off the bat, we have to start wondering if those nice facades are for real, or if there's anything Jack (Ben Kaplan, "Pillow Talk", "Weekend Warriors") or Kristy (Morgan Carter in a solid debut) might be hiding as they settle into their fun weekend of romance and a bit of hanky-panky.
What we don't expect is how...well..."odd" the people renting the cabin to them turn out to be. The Myers family includes Papa Jesse, played by R.A. Mihailoff (DARK HOUSE, LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III), who looks like he was born to play a machete-wielding boogeyman, and oversexed daughter Caitlin (Rebecca Crowley), a backwoods child-woman who eyes Jack up and down with all sorts of illicit intent.
Best of all, though, is Jewel Shepard as Mama Myers, the matriarch of the family. Stuffed into a dress half her size, this overripe matron (who's both too nice and too creepy, a deadly combination) practically oozes "horny" as she ingratiates herself to the nervous young couple, taking special interest in our Jackie boy.
Shepard's performance in the role is one of the most deliciously demented I've seen since Lynn Lowry blew through last year's MODEL HUNGER, and she helps push SLASHER.COM deliriously over the top. Not that it needs that much help, since its premise starts out deceptively simple before taking an abrupt left turn into stark, raving coo-coo and then never letting up.
Once this happens, we can't be quite sure who's who or what's what, which keeps things wonderfully unpredictable. Just when one of my suspicions turned out to be true, another surprise caught me totally off-guard.
In fact, this script, which tiptoes around "torture porn" territory without ever actually succumbing to it, delights in playing up our expectations by giving us just what we expect one moment and then pulling the rug out from under us the next.
Technically, SLASHER.COM is sharply-rendered and is simply a pleasure to look at. Director Chip Gubera keeps a keen edge on the action and visuals while also handling writing (with Chelsea Andes) and music chores. His rock score adds to the film without overpowering it.
There isn't a whole lot of gore, but what there is has been done with traditional 80s-style practical effects--indeed, the whole film just has the kind of vibe one gets from the more satisfying genre films of that decade.
The DVD from Cinedigm is widescreen with Dolby 2.0 stereo sound (English only). No subtitles. The sole extra is the film's trailer.
As exceptional as it is, SLASHER.COM keeps things pretty basic while embellishing its barebones storyline with good performances, quirky characters, chills and suspense, and some twists that only the usual "I saw it coming" types will see coming. I wish every movie of this type could be as much bloody good fun.
Buy it at Amazon.com