A British comedy horror with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in? (And the debut for their production firm Stolen Picture?) The Shaun of the Dead comparisons are inevitable, but Slaughterhouse Rulez is a different (hell)beast. For one thing, the real stars here are the young cast – with Pegg, Frost and Michael Sheen taking supporting roles – and they’re all well up to the task.
Asa Butterfield (still only 21) and Peaky Blinders‘ Finn Cole are great to watch as misfit roommates Willoughby and Don, at upper-class boarding school Slaughterhouse. They go from battling bullying prefects and class prejudice to horrifying creatures from a mysterious gateway, and part of what’s good here is that you’re hard pressed to say which is worse. The downside is that things take a fair while to get going, in an exposition-heavy and horror-light first hour, laced with shameless lines of foreshadowing dialogue about being eaten alive or things ending in a bloody mess. However, once all hell finally breaks loose Slaughterhouse is a gory, funny riot.
Hermione Corfield’s female lead Clemsie is disappointingly underwritten compared to Will and Don, but she and the other young actors give accomplished performances under the direction of (Kula Shaker frontman?!) Crispian Mills, ably supported by their more experienced co-stars. Mills helms the escalating action and comedic violence with confidence, and there’s a touch of Edgar Wright in one piece of quick-cut editing during an escape by Skoda.
With a script ambitiously taking in the controversies of fracking, the pain of suicide and the pressures of closeted homosexuality as well as a portal to hell, Slaughterhouse Rulez doesn’t always hit the mark and make the most of its subplots. The third act, though, is a blood-soaked, laugh-out-loud thrill-ride which makes amends for the film’s somewhat laborious opening.
CAST: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
DIRECTOR: Crispian Mills
WRITERS: Crispian Mills & Henry Fitzherbert (story & screenplay), Luke Passmore (story)
SYNOPSIS: At an elite boarding school, boys and girls groomed for power and greatness are about to meet their match. This ancient and ordered world is about to be shaken to its foundations – literally – when a controversial frack site on prized school woodland causes seismic tremors, a mysterious sinkhole and an unspeakable horror to be unleashed.