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The Slaughterhouse Killer (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Craig Ingham, James Mason, Kristen Condon, Dean Kirkright, Andrew “Tubes” Taylor, Andrew Casey, Breanna Geer, Ashtyn Sone, Allix Izbicki, Samantha James-Radford, Steven Jones, Dot Millhouse, Joanne Barwick, Libby Jessup, Benny Blake, Damian Bourke, Barry Wheeler, Leesa Winter, David Curtain and John McGregor.

Screenplay by Sam Curtain and Benjamin Clarke.

Directed by Sam Curtain.

Distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures. 78 minutes. Not Rated.

You pretty much know what you are getting just from hearing the title The Slaughterhouse Killer. Prepare yourself for some wild, bloody mayhem taking place in a dirty, sordid setting.

Yet the Australian thriller The Slaughterhouse Killer – although it has multiple killings – is surprisingly restrained about the actual mayhem and violence of the killings. It is usually over quickly, often the actual killing is done below the camera angle or off to the side. I’m saying that as a good thing, we don’t have to experience every bloody moment to understand the horror of the situation – although I’m not sure most of the audience for a movie called The Slaughterhouse Killer would agree.

This is not to say that The Slaughterhouse Killer doesn’t have many horrific visuals going on. The slaughterhouse itself is often extremely disturbing, as is the disposal of the bodies. And the opening scene of the main character lying in bed wearing just saggy, dirty white briefs may be the single scariest thing in the film.

That character is called Box (Craig Ingham), and he is sort of the Boo Radley of his Tasmanian town – except for the fact that Boo turned out to be harmless. Box, on the other hand, is not. He’s a giant of a man (both in height and weight), kind of funny looking, antisocial and has a massive chip on his shoulder. He drinks and eats way too much. He has worked at the local slaughterhouse since he was a boy, and frankly he seems to enjoy his job just a bit too much.

You just have to look at him to think, “Oh yeah, that guy has some bodies buried in his back yard.”

He meets his match with Nathan (James Mason), a recent ex-con who takes a job at the slaughterhouse to keep out of trouble. Box takes Nathan under his wing – first on the job and later as a murder buddy. The two of them go out many nights, seeking out victims, killing them and taking their bodies back to the slaughterhouse to “dispose” of them. (Honestly, the disposal seems like hard, disgusting work, maybe more than the thrill of the kill is worth.)

They seem to have no particular way of choosing victims. There are people they disliked – like a bully who works at the slaughterhouse. There are people they liked – such as a pretty and sweet local waitress that Box obviously had a crush on. There are people who they didn’t even know that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They also have no set way of killing – sometimes it is through stabbing, sometimes strangulation, sometimes shooting, sometimes beating.

They become good friends, but eventually Nathan realizes the horrific things that Box has brought him to do and a massive rift forms between them. (It’s hard to feel too much sympathy for Nathan, he did a lot of terrible things himself.)

You just know that this disagreement is not going to end well.

The Slaughterhouse Killer is a bit of an odd duck, just like its antiheroes. In some ways it is rather chilling and suspenseful, in some ways it is a little dull and rote, especially for a film about such an explosive subject matter. In some ways it is surprisingly restrained, in other ways it seems a bit gratuitous and exploitative. It is trying to be a bit of a down and dirty DIY horror like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but it is not nearly as perceptive about the situation.

And, strictly from a technical viewpoint, due to the strong Australian accents a bit of odd sound mixing in which the dialogue is often mixed low and the background noise is much louder, it is sometimes hard to make out large chunks of dialogue.

Needless to say, the two main characters are rather unlikable. They are serial killers, that’s the whole point. However, you don’t have like the main characters in a film for it to work. The Slaughterhouse Killer is targeting a very specific audience, and for them it will probably be a satisfying viewing experience. I’m probably not exactly in that demographic, and for me The Slaughterhouse Killer was an interesting near miss.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: April 6, 2021.

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