Recently there has been something of a boom in horror television. With American Horror Story, The Strain, Penny Dreadful, From Dusk Till Dawn, and more, the horror genre seems to have found it’s niche on the small screen. Even more recently people have decided they also like the slasher subgenre, so we’ve gotten a few of those with MTV’s Scream series. as well as Fox and Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. Jumping on the bandwagon this year was also the Canadian series Slashers, an anthology style series in the vein of American Horror Story where each season will tell it’s own standalone tale, but focused more solely on the slasher subgenre of horror. I use the term “bandwagon” with a heavy heart as I feel it perfectly sums up the sub-par first season of a show that I still have hope for.
Slasher is a Canadian television series about Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath: Jurassic World, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) and her husband Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren: Tucker and Dale vs Evil, The Killing) who move into the house where Sarah’s parents were murdered and she was born in the same night. The town of Waterbury feels like it has gotten over the killing of her parents by the infamous Executioner aka Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow: The Division, Hannibal), but when Sarah moved back all the dark secrets hidden from years ago start to resurface. It doesn’t help that a new Executioner also appears after Sarah comes home and starts murdering people left and right. with the slayings based the seven deadly sins.
I love the slasher subgenre but I’m not sure what it is; there are mystery and crime elements and the real life feeling of a random non-powered human killing people – and I love it. Slasher fits the bill of a very stereotypical slasher story in both good ways and bad. With the bad, Slasher is just as poorly written as most slasher films; unfortunately this is a story that is drawn out through 8 episodes, so the poor writing is a lot more obvious than if it was just a movie. Characters seem to lose specific character elements or motivation between episodes, a glaring example being one persons family member dies and the next episode just a day or two later they are told they need to forget about it and comfort someone else who’s just lost someone. There are also a lot of moments where one character seemingly has no drive for something yet in the next episode that is miraculously all they can think about. What I will say about the writing, however, is that it kept me on my toes. The red herrings were plentiful and sometimes obvious, but it still kept me sufficiently distracted until they revealed who the killer really was and caught me completely off guard. The characters themselves were also very well written in terms of dialogue and interactions. Individual scenes are well written, it’s just the overall story arcs of all the characters that aren’t done well.
Another huge problem I have with the series is the liberties it takes in it’s “borrowing” from other films. One huge subplot in Slasher is literally a complete ripoff of an incredibly popular and incredibly good drama film adaptation from 2015 down to every little detail. I would go into it more, but doing so would spoil a big plot-line in this season. Another film it heavily borrows from is David Fincher’s film Seven. The killer in this season kills people using the seven deadly sins and although it’s not as blatant about it as my first example, it’s still quite obviously borrowing from that film.
The two best things about the series are the two things that genuinely make the season worth watching: the acting and the deaths. The acting by every single person is phenomenal, from just basic characters you see around the town for two minutes to the intense scenes of emotion by all of the main players. Steve Byers (Immortals, The Man in High Castle) who plays Cam Henry, an old friend of Sarah’s and a police officer, Patrick Garrow as Tom Winston, and especially Christopher Jacot (The Waiting Room) who plays Robin Turner, a friend of Sarah’s and a realtor, are all prime examples of wonderful acting. Christopher Jacot really nails it though; he is so amazing in his role as Robin and I could watch an entire season just focused on him. The death scenes are also absolutely wonderful to watch. One of the biggest tropes in slasher stories is bloody and over the top death scenes and this show does not shy away one bit from spilling the blood. Every death is intense and visceral and really makes you feel like you are there, and when there is blood there is plenty of it. The stand out scenes being slow stabbings as well as a table saw.
Season one of Slasher is a decent start to a slasher anthology series, but as a whole nothing more than decent. It’s poorly written which hinders the season a lot and it’s very stereotypical. The obvious borrowing from different movies for this shows plot also bothers me and brings the series down a notch. That said, if you enjoy horror television or slasher stories, it’s worth a watch. It’s a mess, but it’s a fun and endearing mess filled with phenomenal acting and some amazing bloody deaths.I do hope the show gets a second chance with a second season because I feel like it’s got something there and can become a very good horror show eventually. Slasher season one is only 8 roughly hour long episodes, so it’s not too long, and it’s a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon.