I am not sure what I was expecting, exactly, when I began watching Slaughter Night. The cover did have a quote from Slasherpool that said "A whole lot of gore." Well, that certainly sounds promising. As you probably already know, I do like me some blood and guts with my movies! However, we also all know that gore alone does not a movie make. Was I in for one of those? Or was I in for something altogether different and special? I was really hoping for the latter.
I should have known better. This film from the Netherlands is as conventional as it gets. The only thing separating it from your average American horror film is the language. It certainly does seem like France has a stranglehold on the European horror market. It is hard to argue against many of the titles that have made their way across the pond. Of course, we are also used to only the upper crust breaking free and shipping themselves stateside where they seek success based on a boatload of hype and a little bit of hope. For all I know, France has the equivalent of Slaughter Night that has successfully remained locked away with the nation's borders.
Slaughter Night (aka Sl8 N8) does not waste time delivering a little blood and goo. It starts out more than 100 years in the past, where a particularly nasty fellow named Adrien Martiens is kidnapping and murdering children. He is shown with his handiwork around him. Great way to start, right?
Jump to the present. This is more like it! We pick up our main characters at a big and loud college party. Kristel (Victoria Koblenko) leaves the party and is picked up by her father. The two argue a little about a trip Kristel is planning, causing daddy to be distracted and not see the truck bearing down on them. The resulting accident leaves Kristel without her father and with a boatload of guilt in his place.
Slaughter Night then turns into a bit of a road movie as Kristel and her friends take a long trip to the research location where her father was working. You see, he is a writer. Can you guess who his latest subject was? You got it. Adrien Martiens.
Anyway, the curious group take a tour of a nearby mine and learn more about Martiens. This is where the horror part of our movie begins. They become trapped in the mine where they think it is a perfect time to play with a Ouija board.
If you thought "What?" you had the same reaction I had. You're trapped in a mine after hearing about a child killer who died there. Sounds like the perfect time to pull out the old Ouija board and see if he's still hanging around. I mean if they didn't, this sure would be a short movie.
Right on cue, some demons show up, take control of one of the kids and everyone is off to the races. At this point all of the characters do one of three things: 1) run, 2) hide, and 3) complain. Forget about any interesting characters, forget about any attempt to stretch beyond the basic. Oh yes, I forgot something: 4) die.
There is definitely some good effects work here. The problem is that you cannot see any of it. Whenever a demon fight breaks out the camera starts to go wild, shaking and jerking all over. If you were hoping to have any idea of what exactly is going on, forget it. Abandon all hope.
The production quality of the film is quite good, it is just poorly executed with mediocre acting, a second rate script, and plain direction. Nothing really elevates this beyond the mundane. I have certainly seen worse films. You could really do worse than Slaughter Night. Then again, you can also do a lot better.
Audio/Video. The video is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and sports a rather mediocre transfer, much like the film itself. It is dark, muddy, and lacking in detail. Add the fact that much of it takes place in dark tunnels and you are in for a lot of scenes where you cannot see much. Detail gets lost in the darkness and there there is plenty of grain to distract you. It only gets worse when any frantic scenes of demon action crop up — as soon as the camera begins to shake there is an ugly "digital" look that hurt my eyes. Again, I have seen worse.
The audio is not bad. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers where it needs to. It is always clear and crisp. Dialog front and center and with good use of surrounds later on when the action picks up in the tunnels. Nothing mind blowing, but a solid track.
Extras. Palisades Tartan Video has given the film a nice little package.
- The Making of Slaughter Night. This runs for 24 minutes and includes plenty of behind the scenes footage. We get a good look at the blood and gore effects. I also get the impression that they had a lot of fun making the film. Makes me wish the final product was better.
- Outtakes. Nearly four minutes of the cast cutting up on set.
- Original Trailer. The trailer used in hopes of enticing you to see the film. Does it work? Maybe a little.
- Tartan Video New Releases. Trailers are included for H6, Hillside Strangler, Sheitan, Bloody Reunion, and Perth.
Bottom line. This is far from the worst film I have seen. I am most disappointed by how generic it is. There is nothing terribly interesting or original here. It feels uninspired. Slaughter Night is just a faceless horror film adrift in a sea of horror movies hoping to find an audience. Sure, give it a peek, just don't expect much.
One more thing — the blonde in the red hoodie with the shotgun on the cover? Not in the movie. I think I might like to see where she came from.