Film Review: Slotherhouse

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Have you ever found yourself hankering for a film where a killer sloth drives a top-down sports car to the local hospital (whilst dealing with high-speed police pursuit) in order to finish off a victim who had survived an earlier attack?

And then proceeds to take a selfie with said victim on their hospital bed (#killersloth)?

You have? Then boy, do I have some good news for you.

A woman carrying a brown box walks down a hallway towards 2 other women. Still from Slotherhouse.

Director Matthew Goodhue brings us Slotherhouse, a profoundly silly, hilariously over the top creature-feature where a rampaging three-toed sloth massacres her way through an unwitting sorority of pretty, vain stereotypes.

After an accidental encounter at the local mall with a rare animal poacher (I know…), college girl Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar) finds herself the proud owner of a cute, though deadly, three-toed sloth.

With her new buddy settled in at the sorority house, Emily decides to use the sloth’s innate cuteness to boost her social media profile and improve her chances of ousting rival sorority president, Brianna (Sydney Craven), in the upcoming elections.

A young woman in a beige hat and pink shirt smiles smugly in front of a car. Still from Slotherhouse.

But when the sloth browses through Emily’s social media (I already said I KNOW…) and discovers a picture of her with the evil poacher who had ensnared her, Alpha the sloth decides it’s time to wipe her and her sorority from the face of the earth.

And if that doesn’t sound like the set up for one of the greatest films ever made, I don’t know how to help you.

Slotherhouse is a riotously fun time. Completely self-aware of its bonkers conceit, the cast and creative team lean into the zanier aspects with a game smile and allow what is a frankly insane premise to flourish into one of my favourite movie experiences of the year so far.

A woman with pig tails and a referee shirt holds on to a sloth with a whistle in its mouth. Still from Slotherhouse.

Lisa Ambalavanar’s Emily is a fun final girl worth rooting for as she traverses the twin dangers of sorority life and slother-cide. Though she allows her desire for success and fame blind her to the dangers of owning a merciless, unstoppable killing machine, her last act of redemption as she faces off against Alpha is as well-earned as it is silly.

Emily’s rival presidential contender is the wonderfully bitchy Brianna, a character who seems to have been modelled on season one Cordelia Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A sneer in human form, Sydney Craven seems to be having a tremendous amount of fun hamming it up and devouring every piece of scenery on display.

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The performances across the cast are in a similarly campy, broad, over the top vein which suits the film’s silly and unpretentious tone perfectly. Worthy of singling out of the fun line-up of characters is Bianca Beckles-Rose’s Zenny, a fun performance which neatly undercuts the notions of the traditional ‘jock’ stereotype, and the frankly hysterical Tiff Stevenson as Ms Mayflower (who gets one of the funniest final monologues I’ve seen in quite a while).

A woman in a pink dress cowers on a black and white tiled bathroom floor. The bathtub off to the side has a pair of human legs showing. Still from Slotherhouse.

Director Matthew Goodhue shoots the film with an accomplished gloss, introducing each new character on screen with their social media status in profile, which helps to denote their overall importance to the film. And while the film is definitely making a point about the inherent dangers and allure of chasing social media clout, he is wise enough to allow that to bubble below the surface of the murder and mayhem.

And when it comes to the murder and mayhem, Goodhue always finds interesting ways to dance around the limitations of the film’s budget and titular killer critter.

Which brings us neatly to Alpha herself. Brought to life by some basic puppetry and a bit of hope, the creative team have managed to bring to life a villain who is both ruthlessly unstoppable and impossibly cute. A mid-film montage of murder shows some real invention from Goodhue, and he really leans into the film’s title by giving Alpha a body count that Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers would be jealous of.

A close up of a brunette woman screaming with a sloth on top of her head. Still from Slotherhouse.

The fact that I lost count of the amount of time in my notes I stopped to write things like THE SLOTH IS SUNBATHING BY THE POOL or THE SLOTH IS HAVING A BEER or THE SLOTH IS WEILDING A KATANA SWORD should be an indicator of how adorable Alpha is. In an age where CGI is used for almost everything in film (regardless of how small the budget), the decision to go for a practical creature is an absolute masterstroke that pays dividends across the story but especially in the film’s hilarious final act.

A movie that wears its heart on its sleeve and knows exactly what it is, Slotherhouse is a self-aware good time that delivers on its crazy premise with some proper belly laughs and some inventive set-pieces. With an ending that seems to hint at further adventures to come, count on me being front and centre for the release of Alpha’s next gruesome adventure.

Slotherhouse will be available on Digital Download from 12th February from Plaion Pictures

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