Premise: Slaughter High is your basic but well done revenge 80’s slasher complete with synthesizer music, pop rock, baggy clothing and out of control hair. The film centers around eight people, Skip (Carmine Iannaccone) and his friends, who were part of an April Fool’s prank that goes horribly wrong and of course the victim of their prank, Marty (Simon Scuddamore). Years later the group is invited to a reunion at their old school and that is where things get messy for the Skip and his friends, who are the same jerks they were in high school.
Story: The film doesn’t waste any time and jumps right in, it helps that it has a compact premise, limited number of characters and the overall lower stakes. The world isn’t at risk and no one has to defuse a bomb that will save humanity. Personally I can relate to films with smaller stakes a lot easier, and therefore automatically find them a lot more engaging. The editing and pacing of the film is how a good horror film of this type should be structured. A lot of horror films (especially newer ones) tend to have a great first act and start to linger in the second act, so by the time the third act comes around one is likely to be bored and be less engaged in the film by the time the conclusion rolls around. The film is atmospheric, well photographed and there are genuine moments that creep up on the audience.
Acting: The acting in this film isn’t superb, it’s on the same level as most slashers and it certainly is adequate, but then again, let’s face, a title such as “Slaughter High” isn’t designed to present the audiences with great acting, this was designed to be fun, creepy, comedic and give horror fans a nice body count. There are moments when you can hear the British accents with some of the actors, but it certainly wasn’t a deal breaker. All in all the actors did their parts well and did it convincingly, which is what matters the most.
Execution: I’m fairly certain the creators of this film were just aiming to make an enjoyable slasher, but this film delivers more than that. It has the universal theme of “people in high school can be the worst human beings” and “not everyone has a great time in high school.” For those of us who didn’t have a great run during our high school years, this film makes it really easy to relate to the killer and his reasons. This may sound really twisted but it feels really awesome to see these jerks get killed off one at a time, and in some really creative ways. The numerous ways people are killed off in this is a lot of fun to watch. For me, the setting also played a big part. Personally I find it distracting when a horror film jumps all over the globe, keeping characters confined to a limited space seems to give a story of this genre a lot more tension. For the most part this film takes place in an abandoned school, which seemed liked it was the middle of nowhere. Using this setting, the filmmakers were able to create a hostile environment for the characters. For me, it’s irritating to see characters trapped in settings or environments, which one could escape easily but somehow they just can’t manage to figure their way out.
This film could’ve easily gone over the top with everything but decided to keep it simple which also made it effective. For instance the props and costumes are really well done, so much so that it helps give the film genuine creepy moments and the last five minutes of the film are simply amazing. The ending of a film can make or break the deal. If a film is great and has a bad ending, that can leave the viewer disappointed, but if a film ends on a high note, that can often make up for an otherwise mediocre film. Slaughter High has both; the film remains consistently good but also ends on a high note. Even the jump scares are timed well and not overdone, this way they don’t lose their effectiveness. I’ve noticed that a lot of (newer) horror films use jump scares when the writers have written themselves into a corner and don’t know how to transition from one scene to another.
Overall Impression: Slaughter High is definitely a title I would recommend to horror fans, especially to 80’s horror fans and even elements out of it when creating a slasher. This has everything a good fun horror movie should have and even a little more with unforgettable quotes such as: “April fucking fools ya motherfucker!”