SL8N8 (Slaughter Night)
by Andrew James
SL8N8 is a film from Belgium. The "8" in the title is pronounced "aucht," thereby pronounced "Slaught Naught;" which is translated as Slaughter Night.
To start the story, we meet a middle age man sometime in the mid 19th century who abducts young girls, slices their heads off in order to perform a ritual that allows him to enter and exit hell on a whim in order to talk to his dead parents. There is a deeper story involving a mine which I won't get into here, but the man is caught and executed by local officials. Flash forward to present day where we meet a young girl just out of high school who is involved in a car accident in which she watches her father die a horrible death. She must travel cross country to an old, abondoned mine where her father was conducting some research in order to finish his new book about the aforementioned child killer. To retrieve some of his personal belongings, she travels with a group of friends on a road trip. Once there, they decide it would be fun to take the guided tour of the old mine. Bad idea.
Once 200 feet below surface in the depths of the mine, the lift stops working and the tour guide goes off in search of help, leaving the kids to wait it out. He never returns. The kids decide to pass the time by dropping ecstacy and playing with a ouija board. Bad idea. One of the girls freaks out and goes running into the maze of caverns in the mine after bashing another kid across the head with a rock. The other kids split up to look for her and to find another exit. Bad idea. This is where the movie really begins to take shape into a horror fan's wet dream.
Once the movie puts the pedal to the floor, it never lets up. Possessed, zombie-like teenagers and ghosts galore chase through the hallways and dimly lit corridors in an effort to splatter enough blood on the screen for even a neuro-surgeon to get a bit squeamish. Here is where the movie has it's brightest spots. Some amazingly cool death scenes that will have the audience laughing in fright and maybe a slight nausea are shown well and with a unique flair.
One thing I really liked about the movie was the idea for the locale. A maze of hallways in a mine shaft 200 feet below the surface that is completely inaccessible to the outside world except by the lift is a great setting for a horror movie. I also really enjoyed the flashback imagery of the serial killer. It is depicted by sort of a sketchbook rendering of these past events (think A-ha's video "Take on Me"). But the style is dark and ominous with a sepia tonality; not a bright, black and white sketch of happiness.
Two MAJOR issues I had with the film: one, the plot holes. These drove me nuts and the film lost me as a fan about halfway through the second act. For no explicable reason, the aforementioned lift starts working again, allowing some of the kids to move to the upper levels and to the outside world. If this is the case, why don't they all just get in the lift, go up to the surface and drive away? Stupid. Secondly, and without giving anything away, the solution or actions the kids must take in order to "solve" the mystery or destroy the problem makes huge leaps and bounds of logic and/or believablity.
The second issue I had, which was equally annoying as the first, is a stylistic complaint. Though the filmmakers wanted to intentionally create a chaotic and claustrophobic feel to the picture, all they did was annoy me with every single attack sequence. As soon as an intense moment is about to happen, the cameraman literally starts jumping up and down and doing his best to show us as little as possible of the action. Once the sequence has finished, the camera settles down again and everything returns to "normal." In my opinion, this shows a total lack of confidence by the director and also a lack of creativity as he hides what could be the best parts of the movie and instead just makes my eyes hurt and probably gave some audience members motion sickness.
Predisposed to hate slasher films, I am forced to say that for the most part, this is an annoying and formulaic film that is just another ho-hum horror movie floating in the ocean of films in the genre. However, because there is some great action that never lets up, some AMAZINGLY well done make-up and gore effects and ideas, there is a great deal of credit that should be attributed to individual scenes and ideas peppered throughout the movie. Because of this I can't give it a completely bad review because I admit I did have a little fun with it. But for the most part, it is just another un-scary movie with some cliche tactics and from which I was glad to leave the theater when it was done.
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