Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slaughter (2009)

Two young women finding themselves on a farm--not what you think

This somewhat misleading title of a movie--that should have been called something like "The Back Room" or "Scarred Life" or anything else--was marketed with the other After Dark Fest features that are typically horror films. However, this is a more tame feature that plays out more as a simple drama at first with the everyday problems of family, friendship and relationships, turns over to a possible crime story, then for the last third it steps up with more suspense and thrills than it lets on to be with a nicely timed twist where the tables get turned.

"Slaughter" starts out with a bound woman being dragged to a dock, only to be pushed into the water and a cinder block to make sure she stays down. In Atlanta, a woman named Faith is running away from boyfriend trouble when she by chance meets the loose and lively woman named Lola in a night club. They connect right away and Faith decides to move to Lola's family's pig farm for work as her controlling ex-boyfriend Jimmy is getting closer and closer to finding her. Lola and Faith return to the clubs at night and usually Lola comes home with a new man who's along the lines of a sugar daddy. The older brother is somewhat cruel and the all-blinds, no-words father is put off by the daughter with distasteful looks, not to mention they don't seem to like their new guest hanging about. Faith looks out for her friend and suspects something is going on in the slaughterhouse that's closed off to her when the men disappear by the morning time.

The mystery element is partly obvious from the title and opening scene, though the reason why and full scope is eluded to. The clues in the meantime aren't exactly Sherlock Holmes type material with some filler bread crumbs with a wrist watch here and a set of keys there. Faith's character also seems to be generally suspicious without the script always giving her a really solid reason to be so. She often heads in the right direction as if she has some kind of hidden instinct that we don't know about. There aren't always enough clues given out to nail you to the seat of what's going on behind the scenes, though the story isn't always sensationalized with excessive blood and there's no nudity. The finale is somewhat manipulative when the tables keep getting turned, though it's also somewhat depressing and sad that its cold conclusion was inevitable. This doesn't always wander into the exaggerated, over-the-top cinematic experience with loud and overly stylish filmmaking mechanics, as this attempts to go for some realism with its scenarios and character motivations--even if some are far-fetched it makes it easier to accept them. I originally thought this was going one way, helped by the "Texas Chainsaw" homages--camera flash sound effect and all--and it ended up being more a red herring in a way to something else. It's building up to something unexpected that involves all characters shown and has a story to unravel and finalize than going for shock value alone.

The performances seem to come into themselves, by at first coming across as a little stale, probably more so at what they have to work with in the drama department, but as it progresses the two leading women reveal a little more depth about themselves. The supporting cast comes across more for script development and to pad this with more bodies; like a game of chess with only two pieces doing the main work but the rest filling out the board. The boyfriend Jimmy seemed the pawn of the roles with less authentic power. The youngest brother had a form of charisma and represented some innocence amongst the darker aspects. In case you're thinking it, the premise might at first glance seem like something out of a softcore film with two highly attractive women at an isolated farm finding out who they are in life with some experimenting going on. Settle down, settle down. It dodges eroticism with a cold dash, but still plays on moralless sex and violence as if they're implicitly linked. Should you be able to freely let yourself indulge without problems from family, friends or even yourself? Even on a personal level emotions usually follow and some people either move on before that happens and while the enjoyment lasts, or possibly get their feelings hurt in the meantime, while others are at it for different reasons than the mentioned

Rating: 6/10

Director: Steward Hopewell (Going to Pieces - second unit director)
Stars: Amy Shiels, Lucy Holt
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment