GORE IN THE STORE
SLASHER: FLESH AND BLOOD ***
Starring David Cronenberg, Christopher Jacot, Sabrina Grdevich, Patrice Goodman.
Horror, US/Canada, 8 episodes
Season four is streaming on Shudder from 12th August 2021.
Anthology series SLASHER relocates to Shudder for its fourth series. Admittedly this reviewer has only dipped into the series once during its debut season so apologies if any I have missed any connections or callbacks between this season and the others. However, as a relative newcomer to the series it can be said that no previous experience with the three previous seasons is necessary to enjoy this often outrageous and quite fun season that lives up to its title from the first episode with its tale of a dysfunctional family stranded on an island forced into playing a game that soon begins to gather a sizable body count.
The family concerned is the Galloways, a wealthy family headed by successful and ruthless businessman Spencer, played here by promising old actor David Cronenberg. Spencer is fond of gathering the family together but not for any sentimental reasons. Instead, he likes to pit his offspring, including his grandchildren and wife, against each other for materialistic prizes. It was during one of these get togethers twenty years previously that Spencer’s grandson was kidnapped, an incident that has scarred the estranged family in numerous ways. Now Spencer has decided to put together a series of sadistic games for his family to go through to win the entire family fortune. Amidst all the family backstabbing and conniving a masked figure is hovering around the mansion who wastes no time in creating his, or her, own way of literally tearing the family apart in a number of gruesome ways.
Fans of Cronenberg who may be curious to see what he is doing here may be slightly perplexed by the cerebral writer/directors presence in an old fashioned, unapologetic slasher, much like it says on the tin. This is the exact opposite of Cronenberg’s recent output in terms of style and approach. As well as its over the top gore, there is a touch of the participatory torture stylings of the SAW films in Spencer’s family games as well as a healthy dollop of camp humour; family meetings here almost devolve into hysterical screaming matches then into violent confrontations where someone usually ends up getting stabbed or losing a digit or sometimes both. There is nothing subtle about anything in SLASHER; FLESH AND BLOOD and that goes for the majority of the performances, including surprisingly Cronenberg. There is something unnervingly off kilter about seeing the usually soft-spoken and considered ranting, raving and laughing it up here.
His is not the only memorable performance on display here; Sabrina Grdevich as his pretentious daughter who likes to dabble in performance art, also gives a nicely over-the-top performance, particularly when she goes to often ridiculous lengths to find out the truth, one scene involving a wood chipper being a considerable highlight.
It may not be deep and it may not be clever but it is always entertaining. There is more than enough here to keep fans of the genre satisfied, whether it is the whodunnit mystery at the heart of the series, which of the sizable cast will end up crossing paths with the masked killer or the over-the-top nature of its family of characters that helps maintain its extreme soap-opera stylings. For Slasher fans, of the genre and the series, this is a well-paced slice of gory hokum and for Cronenberg fans it is an interesting and fun oddity that will stick out amongst his more considered and intellectual recent output.