Main cast: Finn Cole (Don Wallace), Asa Butterfield (Willoughby Blake), Hermione Corfield (Clemsie Lawrence), Michael Sheen (The Bat), Nick Frost (Woody), Simon Pegg (Meredith Houseman), Margot Robbie (Audrey), Isabella Laughland (Kay), Tom Rhys-Harries (Clegg), Max Raphael (Hargreaves), Kit Connor (Wootton), Louis Strong (Smudger), Jo Hartley (Babs Wallace), Jamie Blackley (Caspar De Brunose), Jane Stanness (Matron), Jassa Ahluwalia (Yuri), Alex Macqueen (Lambert), and Charles Fitzherbert (Tompkinson)
Director: Crispian Mills
Oh my, I feel ancient now, because that dude from Kula Shaker is now a film director. Oh well, I’ve heard so much about Slaughterhouse Rulez, with it being compared to the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, so it is with some considerable amount of anticipation that I sit down to watch this thing. A horror comedy that takes elements of the Harry Potter books and gives it some Lovecraftian horror twist? I’m so there… and I’m gone, quickly enough, because I’ve never seen such a desperately try-hard movie before.
The story first. Don Wallace is a high school dropout who spends his days doing nothing. His mother manages to secure him a spot at the prestigious Slaughterhouse School – the name may seem macabre, but it comes from a proud historical legacy of the school – and Don reluctantly attends, if only because the promotional video and booklet suggest that the girls there are hot. Don’t ask how this fellow gets a spot in what is supposed to be an elite boarding school attended by upper class toffs – logic is not a strong point in this movie, as it is more interested in showing off how funny it is.
Anyway, Don soon finds himself the new guy in a sea of boarding school stereotypes. His roommate Willoughby is of course cynical and sarcastic, while the hot girl Clemsie of course has a jerk competitor for Don’s affections in some upper class Mr Popular. The cadet officer Clegg is a tyrant and a bully, while the headmaster is a blowhard and the coach Meredith Houseman serves to exist only for comedic relief as he pines after his wife Audrey, who is working abroad and is clearly cheating on him. Seriously, Simon Pegg seems to be in this movie only because he is one of the producers and as such, it is in the contract to have a role written for him to show off his comedic chops or something. Oh, and the horror part comes from the ugly extras in rubber suits pretending to be monsters from the nearby woods out to eat people.
Slaughterhouse Rulez tries to be so many things, but I’ve never seen such a spectacular failure in a while. For more than an hour, this one is a madcap comedy rather than a horror movie, but so much of the comedy misses the mark. The one-liners are flaccid, the delivery comes off more like forced overacting, and the so-called edgy comedy is too clichéd to work. For example, it’s the current year, and playing slow or uplifting ballads as bad things happen on the screen is so overdone and boring – my reaction to such “humor” by now is to roll up my eyes. There is some potentially interesting subversion of tropes – you’d think a bloke who looks like a jock such as Don will be the hero but he’s quite the inept high-pitched screamer, while Clemsie ends up being person who has to take charge when her buddies are incapable of getting their act together – but for the most part, the movie is more like a laundry list of clichés being played straight. The timing of the comedy is awful too. The characters here try so hard to utter edgy one-liners when they should be running for their lives, and given how the humor keeps missing the bullseye, their efforts end up being contrived and painful to watch.
As a horror movie, it takes way too long for the munch-the-humans fun to start, and even that, the monsters are clearly poor sods in rubber suits, so there’s that.
Everything about Slaughterhouse Rulez just tries too hard to be seen as edgy, dark, and humorous. The poor thing is just unaware of how tedious and unfunny it actually is. Watching this film is like looking at some badly wounded animal desperately trying to claw its way along the ground when it’s clearly nine-tenth dead. It’s better to just put the poor thing out of its misery, just as it is better to give this one a wide berth and watch something – anything – else.