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Slaughterhouse Rulez is a bloody charming school-based slasher

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost support a talented, young cast who play students in an upper class boarding school invaded by underground dwelling monsters.

By Ella Wignell, First Year, Film & English

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost support a talented, young cast who play students in an upper class boarding school invaded by underground dwelling monsters.

In case you were deceived by the innocent name, I can safely confirm that ‘Slaughterhouse’ is not the idyllic private school to send one’s children to. Unless, that is, your goal is to subject your children to arrogant ‘old money’ mindsets, inadequate Latin teachers and, oh yes, decapitation.

Don Wallace (Finn Cole) finds himself a small fish in a big pond when his mother swaps his home in Manchester for the eponymous Slaughterhouse, a superior private school in the country containing a myriad of high-born youths and a psychopathic prefect. Don’s nightmare doesn’t end there; the invasive hydraulic fracking taking place on the school grounds unleashes deadly, bloodthirsty monsters from the fiery pits of the school’s Hogwarts-esque secret underground tunnels.

Youtube / Sony Pictures Releasing UK

While the film is unavoidably a gore fest, it has a strong sense of momentum, and chooses to cast off certain familiar elements of the ‘slasher’ genre. Eerie music and knowing, secretive looks go miles to disturb you in your seat. Like a nightmare that is too close to home, the stereotype of a schoolplace being innocent and safe is well and truly massacred by the continuous allusions to death, lies and corruption in Slaughterhouse.

In his first film since A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012), director Crispin Mills works the charisma of star Simon Pegg, giving the film a vibe that feels part Shaun of the Dead (2004), part St Trinian’s (2007). Adhering to this style, the film is character driven, and in Don we see both a typical and atypical portrayal of the ‘commoner’ amongst the lords. He manages to be both the charming flirt and the lonely, quiet misfit, demonstrating a vulnerable side as he literally begs in tears for his mum to pick him up from the top-rated school, juxtaposing the unyielding confidence and assuredness usually found in the loveable rogue character.

The friendship between Don and his roommate Willoughby (Asa Butterfield) is as endearing as anything in The Fox and the Hound (1981) and it must be said that perhaps the largest shock in this film is not the hellish lake of fire, but Butterfield’s growth - both in stature and acting ability. He gives a mesmerizingly broody performance rich with dark wit and excellent timing. It is also through his character that we are given a handful of genuinely heart-rending moments. His sensitive and subtle portrayal of heartbreak gives this film a needed rawness to contrast the comic absurdity.

That being said, the film would be pretty bare-bones without its absurdity or its ruthless mockery of the upper-class educational system. If we can tear our focus from the gruesome limbs being ripped off left, right and centre then we can appreciate the hilarious commentary that is being made of the ‘elite’ and how they are treated within the hierarchy of society and the hierarchy of themselves. The more down-to-earth members of the school – Don and Willoughby included – consider the school a ‘breeding ground’ for the future leaders, and then watch incredulously as the Upper Sixth partake in a Greek God themed orgy and throw rugby balls at those they call ‘plebs’.

Harsh depictions of the English aristocracy aside, there is a light-hearted air of ‘Britishness’ bestowed upon the characters, with ‘bloodys’ and ‘buggers’ flying everywhere, bringing that sense of heart-warming catharsis we might generally associate with a Richard Curtis film. One scene where Simon Pegg’s character corrects a student’s slang to the Queen’s English as they defend themselves with hunting rifles in a cricket shed is just so endearing that it makes you want to swap your popcorn out for crumpets and a spot of tea.

Slaughterhouse Rulez has an admirably layered script, bursting with genre elements from across the board. This film will not win any Oscars, but it should win viewers’ hearts for its daring exaggeration of social issues coupled with fun fantasy and black humour. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe at the dodgy special effects - this is a feast of entertainment for the mind, albeit only for those with strong stomachs.

Featured Image: IMDb / Slaughterhouse Rulez / Sony Pictures UK

Does Slaughterhouse Rulez remind you of your posh secondary school minus the bloodthirsty monsters?

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