(Coming Soon) Slaughterhouse Slumber Party (2020) - Reviewed

Independent cinema is the life blood of the medium.  While blockbuster titans duel in (now closed) multiplexes, it is the smaller, intimate pictures that form the foundation of cinema.  From highbrow art house to down and dirty grindhouse, film continues to be one of the most malleable art forms and its via low budget wizardry that the boundaries of creativity are constantly tested.  Dustin Mills’ irreverent odyssey Slaughterhouse Slumber Party is a benchmark in exploitative horror.  Featuring a hilarious ensemble cast, a delightfully raunchy script, and a surprising amount of heart, this is an outstanding guilty pleasure experience. 

A group of friends gather for an annual weekend of debauchery in which clothing is optional and no boys are allowed.  A newcomer to the event brings with her a dark agenda, forcing the women to band together to fight unthinkable terrors with iodized salt, true love, and bodily fluids.  Mills’ script is remarkable, both for its homage to the exploitation films of the 70s and in its fearless supposition that being comfortable with yourself is perhaps the most powerful weapon in existence.  The entirely female cast is full of intelligent actresses who understand comedy and the pure delight of loving your craft.  On the surface it would be easy to dismiss this as a late night Skinemax throwback...there is nudity aplenty.  However, the realization that most of the cast spends the duration of the film naked shows not only their devotion to the project, but also their fearlessness in expressing who they are.  This is the film's strength; these women know who they are and each of their characters feel real to different extents.  

Beyond the satirical nature of the personas within the house there's several layers of subtext.  Themes of love, secrets, and dedication to the absurd abound, though they are at times hard to find underneath the endless parade of breasts and pubic hair and this most likely done with intent.  Women have spent centuries being judged by their appearances, and Mills double downs on this conceit by filming his subjects at their most vulnerable, in a safe environment in which finding pride in oneself ultimately becomes their salvation.  While the film never takes anything seriously for more than a handful of seconds, the comedic constraints only reinforce the underlying theme.  This is a cast and crew who quite frankly don't care what your opinion is and their strength resonates within every blood tinged frame.

The effects and cinematography combine 80s pastiches with perfectly cheesy CGI to create a madcap wonderland around the principals.  While the bulk of the action is within the house, the single set comes to life as demons, ghosts, and other creatures stalk to party goers.  Mills' cinematography is framed as a mockumentary/reality tv experience that splices fourth wall breaking monologues in between the action.  The end result is an almost artificial ambiance that reminds the viewer that everyone involved (including them) is in on the joke.  

Overall, Slaughterhouse Slumber Party is the kind of film you would sneak into a sleepover or hide under your mattress, but it has been reframed and repackaged with modern sensibilities and a powerful message about being comfortable with who you are.  Girl Power is on display here, but unlike Hollywood cash grabs attempting to profit from the latest trends, Mills and his cast do it with soul and conviction.

--Kyle Jonathan