Slayer DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
I think the matters at hand are far more important than Mario Kart. – Elijah
Written and directed by Ed Peduzzi
2007, Region 0 (NTSC), 105 minutes, Not rated
Tom Gibson as Elijah
Kieran Haller as Phoebus
Amanda Smook as Rose
Andrew Friedberg as Clint
Nathaniel Adams as Cid
Ian Chisholm as Link
Ed Peduzzi as Eric Carlson
Chris Haag as Sam
In an effort to find a stronger cell phone signal, Eric (Ed Peduzzi) — a young college student — wanders farther and farther away from the college, until he ends up on some back country road. Where he witnesses a murder.
Young Eric was too busy watching his phone bars to see the chasing going on behind him. But he didn't miss the murderer launching a knife, which ended up sticking into the back of the victim's head.
Having seen enough, Eric races safely home.
Instead of notifying the authorities, Eric decides to do his own investigation — only God knows why — and manages to track down the killer's hideout. But, unknown to Eric, not only was the killer was quite aware of his presence, his group of friends were, too.
So Eric ends up captured and shoved in a room.
But what Eric doesn't realize is he has little to worry about. This group of men — and one little girl — that has him hostage doesn't kill humans. They kill vampires.
And what Eric also doesn't realize is he's about to join their world.
If someone were to ask me to describe Slayer in five words or less, I could do it in two: Comic Book. And, believe me, that's a great thing, as writer/director/star Ed Peduzzi utilized the money he had (which was about $800), put together a pretty damn decent story and brought to life a comic book.
I didn't pick up what was quite "off" about the way Slayer was filmed until the second viewing, then it hit me: Panels. Each scene in the movie feels like a live action comic panel. Throw in some CGI that, for the first time ever in a low-budget movie, really works and you have a helluva slick-looking movie.
It doesn't hurt that some of the shots were so well done that I asked if there was a director of photography on the shoot, as I'm used to "point and shoot" first-time directors. But, no, Peduzzi did this, too. And a damn impressive job, at that.
Old samurai movies like the Lone Wolf and Cub series seemed to have a heavy influence in Slayer, and I'd be surprised if Versus — a comic book-esque samurai film itself — didn't have an influence, as well. There's just something there that reminded me of these films, be it in various shots or the swinging of swords or the underlying honor code that lies throughout the film.
The acting is competent across the board. While each main player has their highs and lows, when they're on, they're really on and, sometimes, that's when it counts.
Nathaniel Adams, who plays Cid, was consistently good, though. He underplays his part and, for his character, that's what was completely necessary. Adams has a charisma and charm that is imperative to his character, and he demands your attention when he's on screen.
And while Kieran Haller, as the silent and brooding Phoebus, may not necessarily be as attention-grabbing when he's with the rest of the team, he and Amanda Smook as Rose, the little girl, play amazingly well off each other. There is one truly touching scene the two have that really adds to the character of both.
I applaud Peduzzi for scenes such as the one mentioned. He did a fantastic job directing many scenes without melodrama, including one shocking scene towards the end of the movie. When it happened, there was such little fanfare, I actually rewound the movie to watch it again and, yes, I did just see that. Many times filmmakers find the need to overdo it so we get the point, but what they don't realize is understatement is sometimes louder than an explosion. Peduzzi realizes this, and if he continues to make movies and doesn't bow to Hollywood's dumbing-down theory, there will be many, many more scenes like this.
If there's one thing Slayer needs more than anything (besides a distributor), it's a diet. At 105 minutes, there is too much fat on the movie, and it could easily lose 15 to 20 minutes for a leaner film. A scene that could go entirely is one in which Rose is running around the house with a video camera, bugging the team. It has a rather nice wrap up, when the team gets a call and has to rush out and it's as if you are a voyeur to all of this, but it's the few scenes like these that slow the movie down.
Yet, even with a little too high running time, the movie is still good. Damn good. But, here's the pisser: You can see a better movie under the fat, and you can see it can being stellar.
And with that said, I'm going to watch Slayer again. Right now. Because even if it's a little chunky, it's still a fun ride.
Video and Audio:
The audio and video is a catch-22. The first time I watched it, I watched it on my 27" WEGA. The picture was fantastic, but the audio consistently suffered from highs and lows. There were plenty of times I had to reach for the remote to rewind and punch the volume for something I missed. Hell, there was one scene where the audio was so low and muffled, I just had to give up on it.
But on my big screen, coupled with the home theater, the picture's flaws come to the forefront — mainly digital compression issues. However, the audio was leagues better (with a decent mix for a low-budget film that isn't released by a studio). I still didn't catch what was said in the scene mentioned, though.
Two things of note: The first is Slayer has a fantastic score for a low-budget film. It's not often I hear a great score in a low-budget movie, and this one really stands out.
The second is Slayer is being sold on its official site, so it looks like it hasn't been picked up for distribution yet. I'm betting if it does get picked up, many of the audio and video issues can be resolved.
The only feature is a trailer, which is a shame. I would have loved to hear a commentary, or see some behind the scenes stuff.
If Slayer were cut about 20 minutes, it would be something to behold. But even with the extra fat, this is an excellent film to show what can be done for under a grand. There's a plethora of talent within Peduzzi and with this being his first film…wow. Aspiring filmmakers should buy this as research, a studio should buy this for some major distribution and fans of comic book-style movies — who like their entertainment with a dash of samurai violence and a pinch of horror — should buy it because it's that damn good.