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The After Dark Horrorfest is an annual horror festival that's run independently here in the United States by After Dark Films - the event's chief organizer. Sometimes this gathering is also referred to as "8 Films to Die For" and judging by that phrase you can assume how many films are released with the introduction of each new festival. After Dark Films has been pretty successful in bringing fans some solid titles to add to their collection. Naturally, there are a few that are just plain awful, as with any independent or major-league release...so whether it's the big-time or not, a bad movie is a bad movie. Horrorfest 2007 brought us, in my opinion, probably the worst title yet with Crazy Eights. I honestly thought the low point existed with this film, that is, until I recently witnessed a cruel act upon humanity known as Slaughter; a smack in the face by an iron gauntlet, forcing us to lower the bar of standards so much that not even a rat could limbo under it.
The story hones in on a young woman named Faith who resides in Atlanta; having recently escaped an abusive relationship by the hands of her aggressive ex-boyfriend. Faith is then introduced to Lola at a nightclub and the two eventually agree to room together in the outskirts of the city at her father's farm. Faith notices a strange vibe after a short time on the premises when a shocking discovery surfaces during the height of the film's climax.
With a title like Slaughter you'd almost expect something drastic or chaotic to happen but you'll be so hard-pressed for a modicum of action you'd have better luck waiting near your bedside window in hopes of Peter Pan whisking you off to Neverland. In place of such whimsical thoughts, you're swept into an hour and 35 minute vacuum, that as you guessed, is comprised of nothing - but oh, maybe just some cheap dialogue, run-of-the-mill acting, and a musical score that centers around showcasing hipster radio hits (perhaps with the exception of one song, which remarkably doesn't fit in with the rest at all). The characters themselves stand around with blank and unintelligible stares on their faces, the plot slows to a crawl almost immediately, and well before anything exciting happens over an hour in, you're so fed up with the aspect of boredom that you could simply care less what happens next.
Slaughter emphasizes that it was based on true events, perhaps even as real as the Tooth Fairy or a Hobbit; ludicrously gesturing for us to believe that it holds any importance over the plot or outcome. Humans have experienced the atrocities of real-world serial killers like Richard Ramirez and Gary Heidnik - both of which were brought to justice and dealt with. Did the producers of Slaughter honestly think that some tame, mediocre endeavor would stun audiences compared to the horrors that exist in our society? Get real!
One scene depicts an instance where a pair of pliers are used to forcefully remove teeth but even this scene is done so borishly you can't help but wonder why they chose the title "Slaughter" to represent the film. I don't require brutality or a certain level of gore to fulfill my movie-watching needs but it seems that the writers or possibly even the director decided to mix both schools of thought when it comes to subtlety and shock value; what I mean by this is that some scenes have the potential to be extreme, the few that exist, but instead the camera turns away just in time to save us from having to view it. One could agree that if the acting is sub-standard, the screenplay a carbon copy of 500 other horror films, the cinematography and choice of lighting merely "ok", then why not move forward into an area that horror hounds would find favorable?
I don't expect a movie of my choosing to be original in its presentation because there are several titles I could list that were either inspired, or came as a result of, existing films; they turned out wonderfully. Slaughter is the reason why the phrase "money-making exercise" was coined...it's simply that, and nothing more; an indelible mark on canvas that cannot be blotted out or removed. I might be able to bend the validity of a film like this if I weren't such a die hard fan and just accepted that it was produced more for the casual viewer - but Slaughter was showcased at a HORROR FESTIVAL. Casual fans don't go to horror festivals, and if they do, they are in the minority. So what exactly where they thinking?!
The creators of this film need to remove The Texas Chainsaw Massacre DVD out of their units, tear down the posters of Gunner Hansen they have signed and autographed on their walls, and think up something that offers an air of refreshment - perhaps this will save them from being labeled hacks.
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