The modern era of digital filmmaking has meant the tools of creating movies are within the reach of more people than ever. With the barriers lowered, microbudget features have become a reality and, in some cases, a success.
Naturally, this democratisation of filmaking has also led to a dilution of quality, with many tiny films often displaying more enthusiasm than talent. Fortunately, Slasher House is an exception. For the most part.
Shot for a measly 5,000 pounds, this UK horror flick is extremely shrewd with its budget, making sure every penny counts, with a great location and a bold colour scheme combining to elevate the production level of the film beyond its means.
Slasher House opens with a young woman (Eleanor James), dubbed Red, coming to in a cell in an abandoned mental asylum. With no memory of who she is or how she got there, she meets another unwilling inmate, Nathan (Adam Williams). Together the two try to unravel the mystery of why they have been imprisoned and, more urgently, how to get out.
Naturally, this being a horror movie, there is a complicating factor. In this case, it’s the fact that periodically, another cell opens. And in each cell – is a different serial killer.
From the opening strains of the Halloween-esque score, this is a film that is fully aware of slasher tropes. It does have a tendency to fall back on cliches – from a killer clown to the main character waking up with amnesia (and no clothes, for no apparent reason except to lob in a bit of nudity) to that hoary ol’ favourite of bad horror exposition: the Wall of Newspaper Clippings. There are Saw-like written notes and the plot twists are so predictable they would only be surprising to someone who has never seen a horror movie before.
For all the shortcomings of the script, however, the film succeeds through sheer bravado. Director/cinematographer MJ Dixon shoots everything in a sickly green, with the exception of Red’s shock of red hair and thick lipstick. The various killers are designed like comic book characters, with distinctive looks, weapons and back stories.
This may seem a little adolescent, but Slasher House has a raw honesty and glee about it that makes it likeable. It’s a film that loves its killers, but never at the expense of its leading lady.
An impressive piece of work for such limited resources, Slasher House is a decent little horror movie that needed just a little more work on its screenplay to truly be effective, but Dixon and his cohorts have singled themselves out as talents to watch.
Read Matt’s interview with director MJ Dixon here.
DIRECTOR(S): MJ Dixon | COUNTRY: UK | YEAR 2012 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Mycho Entertainment Group | RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: N/A | REGION: N/A | DISCS: 1