Slotherhouse aspires for, and acquires, mediocrity.

The movie belongs in the company of the WolfCop and Sharknado franchises, a recent camp of ironic horror-comedies that use an absurd premise or character (or both) to make an outrageous impression even though it may hold the audience’s best interest in contempt.  Admittedly, these movies don’t necessarily satisfy me the first time around (I’ve enjoyed their first sequels more than their predecessors), but I’m always willing to be surprised.  Who knew that I was going to have a riotous good time with The VelociPastor?!

For a slasher-horror about a killer sloth picking off bubble-brained sorority sisters, the set-up to Slotherhouse is still a little too immature.  The plot, at first, hinges on a presidential election.  The women of Sigma Lambda Theta anticipate a showdown between current intimidating president Brianna (Sydney Craven) and a sweetheart senior named Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar).  In a competition that relies heavily on being sociable and having lots of online clout, Brianna looks as though she’s set to bury Emily, who is an unknown in comparison.  However, Emily’s popularity grows when she receives assistance from a cute ’n cuddly, clingy sloth who becomes an overnight campus sensation.  Everyone would rather have a sloth for a mascot than to be bossed around by Brianna – sounds fair.  Opinions start to change when the mild-mannered sloth starts to “take down” those who wish to get in Emily’s way, and matters get more violent when the sloth pieces together how it arrived at the sorority.

The heavy-handed “girl power” and the incessant squeeze around social media popularity suggests that Slotherhouse was written by middle-aged men tinkering around with their new iPhones.  Staggeringly enough, this isn’t the case.  Director Matthew Goodhue and screenwriter Bradley Fowler are younger filmmakers who should, at least, know better when representing contemporary social media and the pressures that ensue.  The viewer doesn’t care about each character’s online status nor does this information impact the story because these people are simply present to be casualties.  Considering so much of Slotherhouse relies on the dynamic between sorority sisters, the film is also missing a necessary feminine touch to the material.  Actor Cady Lanigan receives a story credit, but maybe she could’ve helped Fowler with developing strong characters with unique voices instead of the screenwriter relying on lame bio pop-ups to do the heavy lifting.

Then there’s the sloth, which is the most interesting thing about Slotherhouse.  The killer sloth is, primarily, a puppet;  wonderfully controlled by someone who understands the laggy characteristics that make the animal memorable.  The funniest kill is when the sloth uses a flickering light to scurry to different parts of the room, resulting in the sloth pinning down their victim and slowly raising their claw to take a big swing.  It’s a disciplined gag that I wish the movie had more of.

By the final third, Goodhue shrugs and indifferently chooses to make his movie a stereotypical slasher that cuts away whenever the tension intrigues us.  Some of these abrupt cuts are funny (such as the slow slash from earlier) but, usually, Goodhue leaves the viewer hanging (note to the filmmakers: if the movie suggests that the sloth kills someone with a loofah, I better see that sloth kill someone with a loofah).


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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