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“THE SLASHENING” (Film Review)

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In an age where horror spoofs are almost universally derided, there’s a certain amount of gutsy respect afforded to filmmaker Brandon Bassham for going straight into THE SLASHENING as a parody. After all, there’s only so much material in the slasher genre that has yet to be untouched by spoofs or commented upon by self-referential fright flicks. And while this serves true for some parts of THE SLASHENING, which is clearly inspired beyond its means, Bassham thankfully takes a more absurdist approach that provides inherent charm to this lean, mean parody.

In essence, THE SLASHENING follows a group of young women who are more-or-less defined by their running gags: there’s the cokehead, the sleazy one, the nerdy best friend, the mild-mannered host and the emotional lead whose suffering through a break-up. Of course, the film follows the standard slasher tropes, whether it be the first-person POV shots of the girls as they undress or the ability to seemingly appear out of nowhere. But luckily, Bassham’s gags are more about the situations themselves than how they operate within the genre, and the break-neck pace at which the film throws its jokes leave little time to stew on the ones that fall flat.

Perhaps what makes THE SLASHENING particularly enjoyable is that the film doesn’t particularly go after anything iconic, instead acting within the parameters in which horror fans will be familiar. Bassham instead injects the film with a ton of repetition and general weirdness, which sometimes lands very hard (a running gag about pizza delivery men is a particular highlight) or essentially is dead-on-arrival (there’s only so many times doing cocaine can be funny in the span of 5 minutes). Make no mistake, there’s a lot of laughs to be had in THE SLASHENING (with the reveal of the killers and their motivations to be particularly hilarious), but the film’s edgy and patience-testing humor can turn some horror comedy fans off before even getting to the action.

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A Troma Release, THE SLASHENING also sports a super low-fi look, which works to harken back to the golden days of slasher FX (here handled deftly by Merritt Evelyn Christensen) but also offers a fairly ho-hum visual style. In fact, it seems cinematographer Michael Christopher Doyle seems more at home doing the various slasher tropes such as the POV shots or low angle shots of the killer’s hands than the static interactions between characters. Ditto goes for the score by Faith Fossett and Geoff Garlock, who emulate much of ‘80s horror pop-synth scores alongside throwback siren songs and “classic rock” compositions throughout.

THE SLASHENING also contains a game cast of newcomers, all of whom understand and work towards the specific slasher parody in which their characters exist. Anna Callegari and Samantha Reece Schecter are perhaps the strongest of the bunch as our leads, while Elyse Brandau, Lily Du and Dana Pinkman are all respectably funny in their admittedly one-dimensional roles. Meanwhile, Patrick Foy, Billy Bob Thompson, Langan Kingsley and Dan Hodapp are all funny in their supporting roles, while Dan Chamberlain nearly steals the show in a pair of scenes as a creepy and not-so-subtle cop.

Overall, while THE SLASHENING will doubtfully become a horror comedy to live by, it’s nevertheless a fun and funny time that respectfully twists the slasher genre with bizarre results. Bassham shows much promise in THE SLASHENING as an absurdist voice in a sea of poor man’s spoofs, and if given a bit more time to craft his next horror comedy, the director could really knock out something equally hilarious and horrifying. But with THE SLASHENING, Bassham offers a parody that’s well-enough in every regards, which when paired with outside-of-the-box material, is not a bad status to stand by.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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