Movie Picture

There is a never ending supply of zit-faced teenagers who love low budg' slasher movies. It's like Soylent Green recycling itself over and over. This audience, being young and somewhat ignorant of the billions of preceding slasher films, can't really differentiate between good and bad because they were raised on swill like Scream and Urban Legend. It's sort of akin to Hot Topic's regular customers who love bands like My Chemical Romance and Fallout Boy because they were never exposed to Poison Idea or Articles of Faith.

Being neither a customer of Hot Topic nor a pimply teenager I'd like to bring some perspective to you poor kids in the hopes that you will avoid the ding-dongery that takes place on the screen when one chooses the Dutch Ass-terpiece Slaughter Night released last month on DVD.

When I think of the Netherlands I imagine a society much more tolerant and open-minded about things that we Americans find taboo. Perhaps this is a stereotype, but I gleefully subscribe to it. In fact, that's my take on Europe in general, so when I see a horror film from Europe, I think I have higher expectations in terms of what they can get away with relative to American horror films. Think films like Violent Shit and Nekromantik.

Slaughter Night however, tries it's very hardest to mimic stale mainstream Hollywood schlock like the Final Destination franchise. This is evident from the very beginning of the film as cliche after cliche is blandly rolled out in an earnest attempt at horror street-cred.

The teenage characters are loathsome, but not in a comical exaggerated way like the American tourists in Hostel. They're just people you would not like in real life. It is, of course, expected that every adult in the film will clearly indicate the right things to do and that the teens will then do the exact opposite (a mineshaft filled with flammable gas? Where are my smokes...?). There are numerous fake-out scares that simply don't deliver any kind of a jolt. Thankfully, there is no "it was only the cat" scene, but only because there is an "it was only my mom" scene.

When things could get exciting, the filmmakers unwisely choose to go the route of the shaky, first-person camera to try and get the viewer to feel like they are part of the scene. I doubt this was anything to do with style however, and was, instead, a cheap way to save money on special effects. Or maybe drugs were involved.

The story is, basically, a cheap re-working of an already cheap film, the 1981 Canadian slasher film My Bloody Valentine (which had one thing going for it - awesome Canadian accents. "Look oot, eh!"). I won't elaborate on the watery plot as it suffices to say that the funky teens wind up stranded in a mineshaft fighting off the ghost of a cranky Dutch murderer who possesses each of them one at a time. Aside from one spectacular shovelgag scene, this is a fairly bloodless combination of the ghost genre and the zombie genre.

The story is, in fact, so riddled with mistakes and continuity errors that it's easy to lose track of what's going on because you are so preoccupied with asking questions. Questions like "Where did they find a full can of gas in an abandoned mineshaft 300 feet below the surface?" "Why did the power work sporadically and only to the bad guy's advantage?" "Didn't that guy drop his shotgun in the water back there - so why does he have it again?" "Where did the ghost guy get the fireman outfit in, again, an abandoned mineshaft 300 feet below the surface?" "If the power was cut, why did the powertools work?" "If there is a mass murder and huge fire in the mineshaft (do you really care that I give the end away), why do they continue to have tours at the end of the movie?"

Part of the success of any horror film, slasher genre or not, is that some sort of suspension of disbelief must occur. Otherwise your audience simply won't buy into it. The producers of Slaughter Night clearly skipped the first chapter of "American Horror Films 101" when making this doo-doo flavored gem and focused only on the easy parts.