Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 23, 2016)
Not long ago, I examined the first year of Scream: The TV Series. In the same vein comes a “Chiller” network show called Slasher.
This 2-Blu-ray set includes all of Season One’s eight episodes. The plot synopses come from the packaging.
An Eye For An Eye: “When Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath) returns to the small town where she was born and her parents were killed, she plunges into a new, even bloodier murder mystery – and history starts to repeat itself.”
When I mentioned the Scream TV series at the start, I did so mostly just to cite another horror anthology. The connections don’t end there, though, as both offer clear thematic and narrative similarities.
Whereas Scream grabbed my attention right off the bat, I can’t make the same claim for Slasher. While “Eye” has its moments, it lacks a lot of real drama or scares. McGrath’s dodgy attempt at an American accent doesn’t help. Hopefully Slasher will improve as it goes, but “Eye” leaves me somewhat cold.
Digging Your Grave With Your Teeth: “After receiving a disturbing package with a gory message, Sarah is determined to stop The Executioner from wreaking vengeance on the people of Waterbury”.
Poor Wendy Crewson! Only 27 years older than McGrath, she finds herself cast as Brenda, Sarah’s grandmother. Sure, the show indicates that Brenda gave birth to Sarah’s mother at the age of 18, but she still seems young for the part.
At least Crewson adds some personality to another fairly listless episode. McGrath continues to lack much personality as our lead, and most of the supporting cast feels bland as well. Crewson brings a little pep to the proceedings, though not enough to make this an especially compelling episode. “Grave” moves along some plot elements but it still doesn’t engage me.
Like As Fire Eateth Up and Burneth Wood: “Sarah’s certainty that the police have arrested the wrong person for the murders is validated when she learns a shocking secret from the past.”
Part of the problem with Slasher comes from its derivative nature. As noted, some aspects remind me of Scream, but Slasher also tosses in obvious links to predecessors such as Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.
This lack of originality drags on Slasher and makes it pretty uninvolving so far. I still hope to see it improve, but the first three episodes feel like little more than generic horror.
As Water Is Corrupted Unless It Moves: “Sarah grows frustrated with the police chief’s (Dean McDermott) inaction as she becomes convinced the killer is playing out the seven deadly sins, but her efforts to help the investigation result in even more tragedy.”
Ever since the first episode, I’ve thought that McGrath made for a dull lead character, and that hasn’t changed. She creates a hole at the top of the project – though she’s not the only problem, as much of the rest of the series seems bland as well. I’ve come too far in Season One to bail on Slasher, but I feel less and less hopeful that the story will ever become involving.
Ill-Gotten Gains: “Sarah shoulders Cam’s (Steve Byers) blame after another shocking murder, while Dylan’s (Brandon Jay McLaren) TV commentaries on the killings bring out the best and worst in Alison (Mayko Nguyen).”
Part of the issue I have with Slasher is that it plays like a really violent soap opera. It concentrates more on internecine drama than attempts at horror or real drama, and that focus on tedious character elements becomes an issue. “Gains” shows a little spark, though, mainly due to Alison’s attempts to draw out the killer.
The One Who Sows His Own Flesh: “Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow) shares disturbing information with Sarah about her past, leading her to suspect the identity of the Executioner’s next victim.”
If Slasher didn’t seem derivative enough, it becomes even more so here, as the show suddenly turns into Room. Because the series hinted at this subplot previously, it doesn’t come out of nowhere, but it still feels like an odd choice. The rest of the show continues down the usual monotonous path.
In the Pride of His Face: “Sarah learns that Dylan knew about her past before they met. Tom Winston escapes from prison, convinced that Sarah is going to be the Executioner’s final victim.”
One aspect I liked about the Scream series stemmed from the fun way it toyed with viewer expectations, especially in the ways it bounced around potential suspects. On the other hand, Slasher seems bound and determined to wring as little drama from the killer’s identity as humanly possible. That’s just another wrong move in a series full of them, and it leaves Season One stuck in neutral as it should heat up.
Soon Your Own Eyes Will See: “Hurt and confused by Dylan’s betrayal, Sarah seeks solace with Cam while the Executioner works to exact a final vengeance.”
Here the season comes to an end – and with it the reveal of the Executioner’s identity. Does this climax seem exciting? Yes, if you didn’t follow all the obvious clues and figure out the murderer many episodes earlier.
That inevitability makes “Eyes” the disappointing capper on a lackluster season. I can’t even call it a season of lost potential, as Slasher never really threatened to rise above promise of its generic title. It started bland and stayed there.