The anthology series Slasher returns to Shudder with Slasher: Flesh and Blood. The story for this season is all about the drama of one family and an inheritance. It stars David Cronenberg (yes, that David Cronenberg) as the head of a huge family with inheritance and power on the line. It’s the 25th anniversary of the kidnapping of one of his grandsons. So naturally, the whole family has to get back together to mourn and be with one another.
Alongside him star: Paula Brancati (Dark Oracle), Jefferson Brown (Carrie), Patrice Goodman (Sunnyside), Sabrina Grdevich (A.I. Artificial Intelligence), and Christopher Jacot (Going the Distance). New to the series are Rachael Crawford (Heartland), Jeananne Goosen (The Walking Dead), Sydney Meyer(Departure) and Alex Ozerov (The Americans).
The whole thing blows up in their face when they’re pitted against one another in a game of life and death for the inheritance. Oh, and there’s also a horrifying masked killer stalking them on the deserted for the weekend island they’re on. It’s a fascinating concept that plays out like a slasher movie, but over an entire 8 episode season, instead of and hour and a half. Through the halfway mark, Slasher: Flesh and Blood definitely hits the mark for the horror hounds out there.
Knives Out Meets Saw and Ready Or Not In Slasher: Flesh and Blood
If you were into the bickering family dynamic from Knives Out, this will feel right at home. Now imagine if that family was fighting to the death for their fortune. There’s no Benoit Blanc sort of detective character but the character of Liv fills a bit of that role you get from a movie like Ready or Not. There’s not much dark comedy here, it’s mainly tension and atmosphere that builds up. There are some lighter moments throughout the first four episodes of the season, but the tone is definitely on the darker side.
And then there’s the kills. Holy crap, the kills in this show. Without spoiling anything, you need to see the show for yourself, for a television series, the use of practical effects and very little CGI is a breath of fresh air. They’re gruesome, they’re set up well, and you can feel it for the characters. Part of the reason they work so well is that as the audience, you can see them coming.
Then you have to wait to see when they’ll happen. Some are teased and then you’re thrown off with another, but most of the time, if you can imagine what the kill is going to be, it happens. It’s magnificent in that regard. There’s lots of blood and guts here for gore fans. For people who aren’t super into that kind of horror, don’t worry, they’re not happening every five minutes. The kills are used sparingly to bring the plot forward, and they all happen for a reason.
The story is presented in the present day, but uses flashbacks throughout to give you the whole picture.
So Many Twists And Turns, But It Works
This family dynamic is messed up. All the way around, no one on this show even resembles normal. They’re horrible people, and through the first four episodes, we get to learn all about their misdeeds in the past. Whether that’s David Cronenberg’s Spencer, or anyone else in the running for the fortune. At certain points, I did get lost, however. There are a lot of characters on this show and it’s hard for all of them to stand out. Some of them, I did end up forgetting their names at a certain point. That’s just something that’ll happen with a cast this big.
Highlights From The Cast
It doesn’t really take away from the narrative or the enjoyment of the series however. You just know their relation to the other characters and you move on. As for highlights from the cast, Sabrina Grdevich is truly unhinged as Florence. It’s a character on the level of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter where she just gets under your skin. It’s a testament to her performance on the show that I hated her character so much and want to see her comeuppance. Christopher Jacot is another fantastic highlight performance from this first four episodes. His character arguably has the most development through those flashbacks and he’s very troubled. His performance during one of the competitions is also just as cowardly and villainous as Florence.
The thread that unites the whole first half is David Cronenberg’s Spencer though. I for one, did not know that David Cronenberg was this great of an actor. Every scene he’s in, he commands your attention. The character of Spencer needed to be someone that brought attention to the screen, and he does it in spades. At times he’s a proud father, and others he’s supremely disappointed and raging with anger. Those moments offer some of the best of Slasher: Flesh and Blood.
The location almost plays as big of a part as any of the cast members. The house they’re all staying in has a character to itself that adds to the whole proceedings. The atmosphere is eerie right from the start. This house and property has seen some serious sh*t over the years. It’s a beautiful landscape that is basically a prison for the characters on the show.
Where The Show Takes A Bit Of A Dip
Across the first four episodes, there are only a couple moments that stand out. There’s a couple relationships that don’t really make sense when you see them at first. There’s also a flashback involving George Michael that plays a bit more on the comedic sounding side. Once you see the whole thing, it makes more sense however. But the relationship born out of that flashback is the one that doesn’t make as much sense. It sounds weird without spoiling it, but see for yourself.
During the more intense chase sequences there is a lot of shaky-cam. At points I had to look away from the screen because it was making me feel a bit ill. Luckily with these, they’re used more sparingly than the kills are. It is something to keep an eye out for though.
They’re small nitpicks that don’t take away from the overall experience here though.
Slasher: Flesh and Blood Starts Strong, Let’s Hope It Finishes Strong Too
This is only about the first four episodes of Slasher: Flesh and Blood. We still have four more episodes to watch, and so far, so great. If you ever imagined a slasher movie told over the course of an entire season with a familial dynamic and gruesome kills, this is it. I’m very intrigued to see where the story goes from the halfway point because it’s already snaked and turned back and gone places that I didn’t imagine.
You can’t do much better captivating an audience than this show, so if you’re a fan of horror, make sure you watch Slasher.
It premieres on Shudder this Thursday, August 12th, 2021 with the first two episodes and then new episodes every week each Thursday.
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