Saturday, October 21, 2017

But I Digress...A Chilling Netflix Series

By Cat

Name/Year: Slasher (2016-)
Tagline Season 1: Everyone in this town has a past. Not everyone has a future.
Tagline Season 2: Not available.
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Crime, Suspense, Anthology
Length: 2 Seasons, 16 Episodes total, 45-53 min. each
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Chiller Films, Shaftesbury Films, Super Channel, TVA Group
Creators/Developers: Aaron Martin
Producers: David Anselmo, Justin Kelly, Aaron Martin, Craig David Wallace, Scott Garvie, Christina Jennings 
Directors: Craig David Wallace, Felipe Rodriguez
Writers: Aaron Martin, Jana Sinyor
Actors: Katie McGrath, Christopher Jacot, Jim Watson, Paula Brancati, Leslie Hope, Brandon Jay McLaren, Lovell Adams-Gray, Steve Byers, Paulino Nunes, Sebastian Pigott, Joanne Vannicola, Madison Cheeatow, Patrick Garrow, Dean McDermott, Kaitlyn Leeb, Ty Olsson, Erin Karpluk, Rob Stewart, Melinda Shankar, Rebecca Liddiard, Jessica Sipos, Jefferson Brown, Mayko Nguyen, Alysa King, Enuka Okuma, David Patrick Fleming, Hannah Endicott-Douglas, Wendy Crewson
Stunt Coordinators/Doubles: Angelica Lisk-Hann, Steve Gagne, Sharon Canovas, Christopher Cordell, Bernadette Couture, Neil Davison, James Eddy, Jason Gosbee, Dana Jones, Geoff Meech, Aj Risi, Geoff Scovell, Amy Szoke, E. Nova Zatzman, Bart Badzioch

Blurb Season 1 "The Executioner": A young woman returns to the small town where her parents were murdered, only to find the past re-emerging as a new series of murders begins.

Blurb Season 2 "Guilty Party": Brought together by a long kept buried secret, a group of former camp counselors are forced to return to an isolated campground to retrieve evidence of a crime they committed in their youth.

Chiller Channel featurette with cast interviews discussing Season One.

I was pretty excited to see the Slasher series land on Netflix with its debut of Season 2 on October 17th, 2017. I remembered wanting to watch this series when I saw the trailer for Season 1, back when it was just on the Chiller network. Unfortunately, while I subscribe to several movie packages, it wasn’t included in them. 

Needless to say, this was a well-timed release landing square in the middle of the spookiest month of the year. As Halloween draws closer, many drift to the macabre to get in the mood for holiday thrills. This series, while only slightly tied to the holiday by the first season’s plot, delivers in spades for those that enjoy the genre namesake of the series. 

Images from Season 1: The Executioner

This series won’t be for everyone. I will admit that the Season 1 is a bit tamer in the graphic department than the second iteration. A large part of that is likely due to the fact it aired on an actual television network the first time around, albeit a premium cable channel devoted to the horror genre. With its Netflix follow-up, the streaming service stayed true to form in letting loose. Season 2 doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to graphic horror in the various forms portrayed. 

The Executioner’s season still has plenty of blood involved. The slice and dice is centered on a town full of secrets and the copy-cat serial killer’s quest to both bring them to light and purge the little town of Waterbury of its seven deadly sins. Everyone has something to hide and there’s a layering of subplot that feeds into giving almost every character a motive to be the killer. 

This series goes into some really dark places as it winds through its twists and turns. There are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing in both seasons. I thought I had it all figured out in both seasons – only to facepalm myself when the truth was revealed. 

Images from Season 2: Guilty Party
The Guilty Party season is hot off the press, so to speak. This season is the brand new installment that solidifies this series as an anthology along the lines of American Horror Story (2011-). The creator of the show is said to be a fan, and was inspired by that groundbreaking series when he developed this one. The FX horror show has those pesky network constraints, and it seemed that writer and creator Aaron Martin (Degrassi: The Next Generation, Being Erica, Killjoys) had a desire to take it to the next level. 

Slasher, like American Horror Story, brings some key actors back in subsequent seasons. True to form, they portray different characters; yet the series seasons are tied together by the same world. For example, the camp mentioned in the first season is the setting for events of Season 2. While some of the actors return, none of the characters overlap. I liked that each season stands alone while being woven into a bigger picture. 

Top: Season 2; Bottom: Season 1

Other influences from the genre are heavily present in the series. The production team mixed in shades of Halloween (1978) and It Follows (2014), but specifically and quite intentionally keep the armed assailant quite human rather than pull from any supernatural source. Honestly, I find horror movies more frightening when the ‘bad guy’ is just a person. Humans are flawed and terrifying creatures sometimes, and it whispers to the potential of darkness in everyone. 

It's also a great find when you discover a series that gives you strong female characters. In season one, we had a female lead; but the story was also driven by what was happening to and because of women around her. In the second season, there are several strong female characters. You don't see the trope of the dumb but beautiful bimbo that a lot of movies in the genre lean on. These characters have beauty and brains - and while they might get upset, they aren't entirely useless eye candy. 

Top: Season 1; Bottom: Season 2
Another plus on the side of this series is that it doesn’t draw things out unnecessarily. Each season is only 8 episodes long, and none of it wastes time with nonsense fluff. Everything has a purpose and it keeps the pacing fast, but not so much that you get left behind. 

While I loved this series in both its seasons, there are some parts that were really hard to watch. The first season had some cringe factor involved, and some moments that made me go ‘ew;’ but it was the second season that really gives a gut-punch. 

Scene from Season 2
I would caution anyone that is triggered negatively by the portrayal of sexual abuse that this is your warning that you’ll want to cover your eyes in the latter half of Guilty Party. I won’t spoil it with any details, but it’s pretty rough. While the series does have some sex involved, that is probably the least explicit part of the show. Some bare breasts is as nude as it gets, so thankfully the trauma depicted doesn’t go too far into the raunch of it all. 

I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the third season. There’s definitely potential there for it to happen, and no official cancellations have been announced. At the same time, no renewal notices have been made, either. While nothing concrete has been released about the status, we can just consider no news as good news. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled.

Scene from Season 2

Speech Available: English, English (Audio-Description), Brazilian Portugese, European Spanish, French, Italian
Subtitles Available: English (CC), European Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Average Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score* – None
Average Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score* – 69%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – 5.9/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

*Rotten Tomatoes averaged the ratings for the 2 seasons of the show.

Season 1 Trailer*:

*Season 2 doesn't have a trailer enabled for embedding into this article. There is one available on Netflix under the series listing, however.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's our celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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