Slaughter Night (SL8N8) (US - DVD R1)
Gabe probably wouldn't have taken a trip to a haunted mine, but that's just him.
Kristel (Victoria Koblenko, not like the champagne) is a little shaken up by the untimely and violent death of her father, which is why she decides to take a trip to the haunted mine he was studying at his ghost insistence (or so I got out of the scene). She and her friends are quickly trapped in the mine with the spirit of a child murderer, who has the ability to possess their bodies and make them do unpleasant things to each other. Kristel loses her friends, but still finds love and a way out, thanks to her father's spirit that converses with her through a very fortunately packed Ouiji board.
It seems I've been seeing a lot of predictable slasher movies lately. It's not that there's anything wrong with the slasher genre or its super-standardized plotting, but it's definitely gotten a bit old. Well, old again, I suppose it was old in the '80s. Scream kind of killed the genre, for better or worse in the '90s by lampooning it so accurately it kind of hurt. The Final Destination films removed the killer and set elaborate Rube Goldbergish deaths for its victims. Saw (love it or hate it, I thought it was OK) put a twist on the formula by setting up booby traps that required the victims to kill themselves. With a few exceptions (I enjoyed the copy of Bloody Reunion I was sent last month) the genre is dying. Again. Well creatively.
Slaughter Night, called SL8N8 in its original Dutch (which makes sense because eight is spelled 'acht', 'slaughter' is spelled 'slacht' and 'night' spelled 'nacht'), wins a few points for not being a pure slasher film. It's also part possession flick, so it's kind of like Evil Dead meets My Bloody Valentine. Or better yet, Shocker in a mine. The plot is still incredibly predictable, and the characters all archetypes that are possessed and/or die in pretty much the exact order you'd expect. They also make all kinds of stupid choices, the kind that the kids from the Scream franchise would crucify them for.
I want to know what type of person decides to go to a haunted mine after losing their father in a very emotionally devastating car crash? For that matter, while we're suspending our disbeliefs, what kind of ghost dad encourages his distraught daughter to go into a haunted mine?
I suppose we have to judge the film on what it is, and it is a shock and awe gore flick. Based on these guidelines the film is still only a modest success. It's definitely gory, but there isn't any innovation to the admittedly frequent deaths. A head bisected at the mouth with a shovel would be way cooler had I not already seen it done in Day of the Dead, way back in 1985, and behind the head throat slits are sooooo 1981. So far as the scare or suspense factors, I didn't get much of either out of the film, and I'm pretty sure that the by-the-number approach probably won't scare too many other viewers either.
The performances are decent, but the only likeable character is the semi-virginal heroine, making it difficult to give a damn about any of these decent actors as they're slachted. The art direction is nice and layered, but the camera work is thoroughly obnoxious. I'm not 100% set against arbitrary camera moves or the hand-held look, but the arbitrary and persistently shaky camera work here is a real pain in the ass. The film must have been nauseated in theaters. There are some nice set-ups and lighting schemes, but they're often quickly sabotaged by the quaking camera.
And what's the deal with the strangely un-poignant fades to black throughout? Perhaps commercial breaks for the TV version? Strange.
If I didn't know better, I'd say this was a NTSC to PAL conversion on an NTSC DVD. That can't be possible though, right? But I swear I noticed PAL speedup throughout. Maybe it was just the constantly shaky camera work playing tricks on my eyes. Regardless, this is another interlaced transfer from Tartan, and it really shows. There's combing here and there, but the big problem are the overlapping images. The film's opening, a shaky-cam chase, is especially ripe with doubling images. On the good hand, blacks are very deep, and details sharp enough that I could tell what was going on most of the time.
For a new flick the DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are pretty weak. The surround channels are busy, and things rarely become muddled, but there's a definite lack of oomph here. The LFE is deep, but lacks punch, making the film's many jump scares unnecessarily quiet. During the opening scenes we get a full-on rave, complete with a track overwhelming pumping bass, and a violent car accident, both standard surround sound standbys, but neither stands out. The DTS track is the louder, but still lacks the usual 'bam' such a track requires.
This disc contains the usual Tartan assortment. The featurette is very obviously made for TV, and is an uninspired mix of interviews and film footage. Lots and lots of film footage. There's a little bit of on set footage tossed in for good measure. The interviews feature excited directors and actors who just can't wait for us to see their movie.
There's a short blooper reel, mostly consisting of actors forgetting their line (really never all that funny), and a few pratfalls. The tartan trailer reel closes things out. This is not an 'Asia Extreme' release, so I didn't have to sit through the unskippable promo this time.
I'm way to lenient on slasher flicks. I assume they aren't going to do much beyond presenting a few graphic murders, and usually judge them on this intent, but after seeing about a gillion of them I'm losing my patients for a constant lack of ingenuity. There's really nothing here to recommend this film other than a few decent (but kind of uninteresting) kills and a likable and pretty lead. The cinematography might have been a selling point had the camera stayed still for more than a second. Slaughter Night is a misfire pretty much all around, but not a completely inept piece of junk.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 10th April 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: DTS 5.1 Dutch, Dolby Digital 5.1 Dutch
Extras: Behind the Scenes, Bloopers, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Frank van Geloven, Edwin Visser
Cast: Victoria Koblenko, Kurt Rogiers, Jop Joris
Length: 90 minutes
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