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  Slaughterhouse Rulez Down With Skool
Year: 2018
Director: Crispian Mills
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Tom Rhys Harries, Isabella Laughland, Jo Hartley, Kit Connor, Louis Strong, Jane Stanness, Max Raphael, Jassa Ahluwalia, Neil Pendleton, Alex McQueen, Margot Robbie
Genre: Horror, Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Don Wallace (Finn Cole) is not sure about this, not sure at all. His mother (Jo Hartley) has just informed him a place has become available in the posh private school of Slaughterhouse, and while he is concerned over the name, he is more concerned about letting his mother down, especially since she is a widow and has used the profits his father made in his recycling company to pay for the admission. That's right, before Don even agreed to it, she has enrolled him in the place, though he feels he will not fit in with a bunch of kids he barely knows, and as they are different classes, barely has anything in common with either. He goes along regardless - his worst fears confirmed.

Actually, more than his worst fears, since this was a horror movie and sooner or later the bloodshed as strongly hinted at in the title was unleashed. This was the first film produced by the company of stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and they had Crispian Mills to thank for the concept, as he was the director; he had worked with Pegg before on the unenthusiastically received A Fantastic Fear of Everything. Mills had made his name as a pop star in the Britpop era, before pissing off seemingly millions with his mixture of rock licks and pretentious Hindu-appropriating philosophising, but he had not been idle in those years out of the spotlight, opting to pursue filmmaking as a parallel career.

Sadly, Slaughterhouse Rulez was none too well-received either, among critics or the more vocal section of the audience, despite its positioning as a Halloween release and a bit of fun for horror fans. Yet that's precisely what it was, eschewing any moves towards the aforementioned pretension, unless allusions to past public school movies counted, as what you had here was a straight ahead monster romp starring a cast of young Brits with a few more experienced players to back them up and more often than not meet a grisly end when the monsters were let loose after the nearby fracking business, a modern day bogeyman for the twenty-tens, digs a very deep hole.

It was not too clear if that business was seeking to dig all the way to Hell itself, or had done so accidentally, but whichever it didn't really matter, this was mostly about the oneliners, bloody slapstick, and right-on messages, which were not as in your face as the thrills. Nevertheless, if you wanted a theme about anti-bullying, which cropped up a lot in films starring kids (or twentysomethings pretending to be kids) around this era, then you would be well-served by this, as the school's very own Flashman was the psychopathically grim-faced Clegg (Tom Rhys Harries), an upper class monster of a different type, and very well played so as to be even more formidable than the lolloping creatures who emerge from the subterranean depths to bite off bits of the pupils and staff alike.

Michael Sheen was the headmaster, who we initially suspect is a bad guy, though he turns out to be more greedy than evil, albeit still with plenty to answer for. Pegg was another master, a bit of a twit in the thrall of a way out of his league girlfriend who he only speaks to over the internet since she left for charity good deeds (and played by Margot Robbie in a "How did they get her?" bit of casting), while Frost was the anti-fracker who has camped out with his hippy mates to protest and perhaps sabotage the project. As for the kids, there were actual youngsters in the cast who acquitted themselves very well, but the focus was more upon Cole, Hermione Corfield as the object of Don's desire, and top-billed Asa Butterfield, always a spacey-looking type but here a sensitive gay who has suffered horrible prejudice, which he meets, well, spacily. You could see what they were aiming for, and if you were carried by goodwill you would find this surprisingly enjoyable, not the best of its type as it took ages to get to the point, but with a lot of verve and energy. Music by John Ekstrand.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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