Imagine Zombieland, but with vampires instead of zombies. For a film that tries so hard to be unique, Slayers is incredibly reminiscent of Zombieland, with both films even having Abigail Breslin in their cast. However, while Zombieland was an extremely fun film with charming characters and moments of both hilarity and thrills, Slayers has absolutely nothing going for it that makes it worthy of a recommendation, not even as just a film to watch to pass the time.
There is not a single thing about this film that works. Not a single joke will make you laugh, not a single scare will frighten you, and not a single character will have you rooting for them, evil or not. The film is so devoid of charm, humour, thrills, or even just decent filmmaking — even its talented cast can’t make up for all these shortcomings.
Thomas Jane stars as Elliot Jones, a vampire hunter who teams up with a famous online gamer in order to save a group of social media influencers who find themselves trapped in a mansion filled with vampires. We’ve had films about internet celebrities before — just this year, we had Not Okay and in 2017, Ingrid Goes West. Both films received generally positive reviews from critics, and a huge part was because these films attempted to humanize their social-media-obsessed protagonists and make them into more than just caricatures.
Slayers is not interested in that. The social media stars in this film are obnoxious and unlikeable with not a single redeeming quality to any of them save for the gamer. Obnoxious characters in a comedy are fine if the film is able to accompany that obnoxiousness with solid jokes.
However, Slayers seems to have only one joke regarding these characters and that’s pointing at them and laughing at how shallow they are. No new observation is presented about social media and no clever commentary is being made. It’s just choosing easy targets for your comedy because they’re easy targets.
What makes it worse is how out-of-touch the filmmakers seem to be regarding online influencers. Whenever the film has anything to do with social media, the editing becomes berserk and frenzied, showing us fast flashes of photos and videos from Instagram, YouTube, and a bunch of other online platforms. Everything about these moments feels inauthentic. The comments, captions, and editing of all these posts from social media stars with supposedly over a million followers feel written by someone guessing at how social media works rather than someone well-experienced with it.
What’s worse is that this fast editing isn’t limited to just scenes showing social media posts. When Elliot James narrates the history of vampires, there’s fast editing of what seems to be stylized PowerPoint slides mixed in with stock footage. When the characters are experiencing hallucinations, there’s fast editing of seemingly random videos and photos. It’s nonsensical, dreadful, in-your-face, and exhausting.
This film desperately needs to learn how to slow down and show restraint. All this over-editing and excessiveness comes across as goofy, irritating, and desperate, like the film will either be more hilarious or more unsettling if we’re arbitrarily shown images and videos at a breakneck speed. At times, Slayers feels more like a YouTube spoof video rather than an actual film.
Slayers has no idea how to build moments of tension. For all its over-editing, very little actually happens within the film. When a scary scene actually does happen, Slayers has no clue how to make it frightening, instead opting for characters running around and screaming while the vampires show off their teeth. When that isn’t happening, characters talk to each other for long periods of time, discussing the nature of vampires and what the plan is for killing them.
It’s boring and tedious. Then there’s the ending — the film is called Slayers and yet there’s very little slaying of vampires, most of it seemingly relegated to the last 15 minutes or so. Predictably, these last scenes are painful to watch mainly because this film has no idea how to balance its elements of horror and comedy.
Slayers is a prime example of how not to make a horror-comedy film — it’s visually noisy, tonally bizarre, and downright abysmal. Destined to be forgotten pretty quickly, Slayers is nothing but a waste of time. It’s a vampire film without any teeth.
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