Slaughterhouse Rulez review – a serviceable horror-comedy
‘At a British boarding school pupils and teachers must work together to survive the unspeakable horrors emerging from a mysterious sinkhole.’
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost pair up once again for British horror comedy Slaughterhouse Rulez. They’re also joined by young up-and-comers Asa Butterfield and Finn Cole, who play pupils in a tough but esteemed boarding school. The story follows young Dom (Cole), whose working class background grates with posh boarding school Slaughterhouse. The story follows young Dom (Cole), whose working class background grates with posh boarding school Slaughterhouse.
Sent there by his mum, he struggles to fit in but finds a friend in roommate Wallace (Butterfield) and a love interest in Clemsie (Hermione Corfield). Things take a turn for the worse when a local fracking site tunnels into a lair of ferocious creatures that begin hunting the pupils and faculty of the school. Now student and teacher alike must work together to survive.
Directed by Crispian Mills, who only has one other directing credit before this, Slaughterhouse Rulez is a fun movie but nothing special.
Even with Pegg and Frost’s involvement, this is certainly no Shaun of the Dead (2004), although many will draw comparisons. As executive producers and made through their own production company, you can see their fingerprints all over this movie. Various nods and references can be found to some of their previous collaborations, even down to copying certain transition styles. Unfortunately, without Edgar Wright’s direction, that’s all this feels like; a cheap imitation.
One of the things the film gets wrong, is to underuse Pegg and Frost while in front of the camera. These two have been working together for about twenty years, and as such, have an effortless comedic chemistry. Together, the way they play-off each other is naturally hilarious. Yet Mills makes the bewildering decision to keep them separate, and in fact, they only share one brief moment together. By doing this, he wastes the extra comedic value the movie could have had.
‘Horror and comedy is always a difficult balance to strike.’
Lean too much into the humour, and the less terrifying it is as a scary movie. Slaughterhouse Rulez is definitely guilty of this, emphasising more of the comedy genre, and if you’re looking for something a bit more spine-tingling, you might be better served elsewhere. Apart from some spooky night time scenes, the carnage doesn’t really kick-off until an hour into the runtime. When the monsters do make their appearance, they’re likewise shrouded in shadow a lot of the time. Gruesome and well realised as they are, you just don’t see much.
If you’re more interested in laughs than jump scares however, and don’t mind the comedy undercutting the tension, you should be more than content. Mills makes good use of the boarding school setting and the numerous social structures that are in place. What’s more, Dom as the more relatable character, creates some solid fish-out-water tomfoolery. Amongst all the privileged students and posh teachers, he’s clearly our eyes and ears into this world of one percenters.
Although Pegg and Frost do feature in this movie, they take more of a back seat to Cole and Butterfield.
Luckily, these two make very likable leads, being highly watchable and easy to get behind. There’s an actual attempt to flesh them out and give them some backstory. Where their quick connection and friendship feels that more believable, regardless of their different backgrounds. Coming off ultra-moody series Peaky Blinders (2013-present), Cole slots in well with the more light-hearted shenanigans. He makes a great every-man type of protagonist, and with a strong northern accent, stands out among the stereo typically posh elite. Butterfield as well, who has proven a brilliant actor in the past, brings the right amount of heart and emotion to a more complex role.
The rest of the cast don’t get the same treatment in their development. Most of the other pupils are there to be eaten, and Corfield especially is merely that attractive girl for our hero to pine over. Michael Sheen is another excellent actor squandered as the headmaster. He’s a caricature of that typical upper-class British person so many other nations associate us with, and is just there to be made fun of. Pegg gets slightly more to do but is also a one-note character involving a surprise cameo.
‘Slaughterhouse Rulez maybe doesn’t work as a full-on horror, but if you’re looking for something light and easy to watch, it’s perfectly serviceable. There are definitely better movies out there of its kind, and at times it feels like a poor copy of previous Pegg and Frost films. Still, with two great young leads and some entertaining action, this is a fun but forgettable horror-comedy.’
15 · 1h 44m · 2018.
Action · Comedy · Fantasy · Horror · Thriller.
Asa Butterfield · Finn Cole · Hermione Corfield · Margot Robbie · Michael Sheen · Nick Frost · Simon Pegg.
Crispian Mills (screenplay and story) · Henry Fitzherbert (screenplay and story) · Luke Passmore (story).
John de Borman.
David Freeman · Peter Christelis · Victoria Boydell.
sex references · strong violence · suicide references · very strong language.
David has quite a broad taste in film which includes big budget blockbusters and small indie films; including International and Arthouse cinema. As long as it’s good in that particular genre, he’ll watch anything.