Canadian Horror Story
SLASHER: GUILTY PARTY
Director: Felipe Rodriguez / Writer: Aaron Martin / Cast: Leslie Hope, Lovell Adams-Gray, Paula Brancati, Jim Watson, Kaitlyn Leeb, Rebecca Liddiard, Christopher Jacot, Joanne Vannicola, Paulino Nunes, Madison Cheeatow, Sebastian Pigott, Ty Olsson, Melinda Shankar.
Body Count: 18
Laughter Lines: “Why do I always get stuck with the Jason Voorhees types?”
It’s a whole new story for Season 2, although one or two actors return for new roles. Some spoilers follow.
Camp Montega, 2012: Six camp counsellors drive into the woods to party at the end of their summer tenure, but instead of good times, five of them decide to put the sixth on trial for being a manipulative bitch. The girl, Talvinder, is charged with screwing the boyfriend of one, ruining the chances of a summer romance of another, and teasing another into doing her work for her. The situation escalates, an assault occurs, and poor Talvinder ends up with her skull smashed in with a rock.
Five years later – never four, never six – the threat of a development unearthing the hidden skeleton spurns an awkward roadtrip back to the area to move the bones before they’re discovered. The camp, closed down in the wake of Talvinder’s unsolved disappearance, has been transformed into the ‘We Are One’ commune, home to a small group of people with various emotional issues who live outside of society.
In the dead of winter, they allow the newcomers to stay in a cabin for the weekend, and it’s not long before a parka ski-jacket and be-goggled lunatic shows up on a skidoo and begins laying waste to everyone in a variety of gruesome ways. Really gruesome: One guy is chainsawed to pieces while naked, another is drilled with an auger, eyes are gouged out, people are immolated, run over with the skidoo… There’s also a fairly graphic male-on-male rape scene.
With victims not limited to the five responsible for Talvinder’s disappearance, the episodes take a sort of sub-Lost tack and go into flashback territory, revealing bits about the lives of various characters before coming to the area, and pretty much informing us that virtually all of them are murderous assholes, one way or another. The commune folk number amongst them an ex-con who killed and took the place of a new resident, a nasty lawyer, and the victim of a gay bashing who fatally turned the tables on his attacker.
The main problem in Slasher is that almost none of the characters are likeable. Guilt-racked Peter comes close to becoming our first black final guy, but is overshadowed by the actions of those around him, who are purely selfish and hell-bound.
I also pegged the identity of the killer by the second episode. I mean, the only semi-known in the cast who has lingered virtually in the background for all episodes and excused a flashback scene of their own… The misdirection is feebly handled and things grind uncomfortably into Identity waters, which is almost clever, but having seen that film – and several like it – obvious to the literate viewer.
The first series may have been a bit clunky, but it felt like a series. Guilty Party has the plot of an 87-minute B-movie stretched to its limits over six-and-a-half hours, pumped with more filler than a warehouse full of battery farm chickens. The gory killings are well done and shocking, but that really is all it has going for it. Uneven writing results in characters who act like asshats one episode then switch to being practical and pleasant for the next two and depriving us of any real central hero figure to root for.
This was a chore and a half to get through. I’d imagine a shrinking budget from the move to Netflix from the defunct Chiller network threw a spanner in the works to some extent, but what achievements the first series had over its smallscreen rivals has been pummelled to dust. Or rather snow.
Those Friday the 13th-in-the-snow hi-jinks we want are not to be found here.