This is going to sound strange, but I think the reason I liked "Slaughter" is because it's not an endless succession of gore. This will probably disappoint some, and I agree that the title is very misleading; it's not a sleazy exploitation film, but a slow, tense psychological drama that actually bothers to tell a story. Granted, it's not very plausible, and I have a hard time buying into the fact that it was "inspired by true events." But what it lacks in credibility it makes up for in both style and character development. It a deliberately paced film, director Stewart Hopewell opting to let the story unfold gradually before letting the final twenty minutes or so go at full speed. This doesn't always work, but here it allows the audience to take everything in, especially when it comes to the dialogue given to the two leads; I won't give you a list of quotes, but if you pay attention, you'll notice that what they say to each other is ultimately very telling.
The tension builds as a direct result of the opening credit sequence, which uses clever camera angles and lighting effects to reveal that an injured, bound woman is being dragged through a field. When the woman and her abductor arrive at a dock, the abductor ties a cinderblock to the woman's ankles and pushes her into a lake. If you think I just gave away a crucial plot point, think again; there's more to "Slaughter" than meets the eye.
That's when the story slows down and backtracks. We're introduced to Cathy (Antonia Bernath), a young woman who just left her abusive boyfriend to start a new life in Atlanta. One night, she and her friend, Faith (Amy Shiels), celebrate at a local nightclub; out of the corner of her eye, Cathy notices another young woman who looks like she's being hassled by a man. She intervenes on her behalf, and the two immediately strike up a friendship. Here enters Lola (Lucy Holt), who lives on a farm just outside the city with her father and brothers. She appears to be in a desperate situation, unfulfilled on the farm and hated by her father, especially after the untimely death of her mother some years earlier. She claims she would like nothing more than to get out of Georgia and go far, far away. She vents her frustrations by acting promiscuous, constantly throwing herself at older, rich men, manipulating them into giving her gifts like watches.
Cathy likes Lola a great deal, but it's obvious that she doesn't completely understand her odd behavior. She's friendly around Lola, but she's also careful, especially since she's in such an unfamiliar environment. Everything about the farm seems open and welcoming ... except for the slaughterhouse at the bottom of the hill, where Lola's father (David Sterne) spends a great deal of time. One of the reasons it's so frightening is because, for most of the film, it's closed off from Cathy. For a time, the loud squealing of pigs are the only indications that anything is happening.
One could make a case for the pigs relating to Cathy's ex, who has constantly been trying to call her. That might be a stretch, however, simply because the symbolism is obvious. There are so many shots of pigs in this film that they have to serve as a metaphor for something. One could make a case for the pigs relating to Cathy's ex, who has constantly been trying to call her on her cell phone. That might be a stretch, however, simply because the symbolism is obvious. It's more likely that it has something to do with the men in Lola's life, but I can't elaborate on that since too much would be given away. Let it suffice to say that Lola hasn't had the best male role models.
Eventually comes the climactic moment when Cathy finally enters the slaughterhouse and discovers a room hidden way in the back, which contains a vacant chair and a locker full of shoeboxes. To describe more would ruin both the suspense and a plot twist that seems expected but somehow manages to be surprising nonetheless. What's interesting is that, in spite of the twist functioning at a level appropriate to horror movies, it's doesn't evoke that same sense of outrageousness other such stories are known for--shocking, but not altogether over the top. We've spent a lot of time with the main characters at this point, which, for reasons I won't reveal, helps a great deal during the film's final minutes.
The ending is perhaps too downbeat, and the final shot is heart wrenching in its uncertainty. There is, however, a sickening feeling that it couldn't have turned out any other way, which, if you see this movie, you will find both frightening and sad. Despite being advertised as a dime-a-dozen horror film, "Slaughter" delivers on a level more compelling than what the genre promises. Under different circumstances, it probably could have been widely released as a dark crime drama. That's not very good news for the horror movie fans that were enticed by the title, and if you're one of those people, I'm sorry to tell you that "Slaughter" is not going to be what you expected. But if you're looking for a carefully paced thriller with strong characters, you just might get your money's worth.
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Chris Pandolfi (Chris_Pandolfi)
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Faith thinks she is leaving her abusive relationship behind when she moves in with Lola on her family farm. Each night the girls go out, Lola comes home with a man. When Faith realizes these men never make it off the farm, she starts to believe Lola’s family might be killing more than just animals in the slaughterhouse.