SL8N8 (Slaughter Night) Review

7 out of 10 Skulls
Written by: jmh314   

When I think of slasher movies, I can't say I think of the Dutch horror genre.  Actually when I think foreign horror, I dont even think Dutch films were on the list.  Then along comes the film SL8N8, aka Slaughter Night, and suddenly I am intrigued by the Dutch horror indursty.  I cant say I had ever seen a Dutch film before this one, and I was worried their take on the slasher genre wouldnt be anything new.  For the most part the Dutch use a typical slasher set-up but it is done in entertaining fashion.  Slaughter Night sets the story up nicely, uses an interesting combo of regular camera and handheld camcorder work, and has some great gore effects.  All in all, it surprised the hell out of me, especially from a country that I didnt even know produced horror films.

As I said, they set-up for this film is pretty typical.  We open in the mid 1800's  and witness the puruit of a murder who had been killing and decapitating children.  After being pursued, he is caught red-handed.  Suddenly without any further explanation of these past events, we flash forward to present times.  We meet a girl named Kris who is out partying with her friends at a club.  When her car wont start, she calls her dad for a ride home.  Kris's dad drops off the friends, but quarrels with his daughter in the car after that.  Suddenly, the car is stuck by a big truck.  Kris gets out of the car in time to see her unconscious dad still inside the car when it blows up.

After her dads death, Kris is informed he was writing a new novel and her mother sold the rights to the manuscript, but it needs to be picked up from his research office in Belgium.  Kris asks if she can go get the manuscript, and ends up taking a trip with her 3 friends.  They arrive at an old abandoned mine where Kris' father was doing his research.  Turns out, her dad was researching the killer from the 1800's whose name was Andries Martiens.

The story of killer Andries Martiens is he grew up to rich parents, but they were abusive and mean to him.  He joined the navy and while he was away they died.  They didnt leave him any of their money, so he turned to black magic.  He believed if he severed 8 heads in a ritual that he would be able to travel in and out of hell enabling him to ask his parents where their fortune was.  Andries Martiens was captured before the ritual could be completed.  After he was caught he served as a "fireman" in a mine where he was used to ignite methane deposits.  If he survived he would be granted a full pardon.  Needless to say, Martiens never made it out of the mine alive.

While researching Andries Martiens, Kris' father used an Ouija board to communicate with spirits in the mine.  She finds the Ouija board and the manuscript in his office and is going to depart the area but is talked into taking a tour of the mine with her friends.  Kris and her friends join the tour, and head down the mine with the guide.  The story of Martiens is further explained by the guide who does a good job spooking the tourists with noises and props. 

Upon completion of the tour, the mines elevator will not work.  Suddenly all 8, yeah thats right 8, are trapped in the mine.  The tourguide wanders to an "emergency" shaft to try and get out to go get help.  While he is gone Kris' friends start popping XTC and decide to play with the Ouija board.  In doing so, Martiens spirit is accidently unleashed and it begins haunting bodies of the tourists.  It begins to kill them one by one, trying to collect their 8 heads to be able to complete his ritual travel to hell once and for all.

So 8 people trapped in an abandoned mine isnt the most original idea for the plot of a slasher.  But it's execution is where it excels.  Part of the storyline is one of Kris' friends has a camcorder and records their actions in the mine.  So some of it is shaky camera work that makes you feel like you are experiencing their fears, ala Blair Witch style.  Also I like the use of the mine as it is like one big maze.  It's filled with dead ends, tunnels, and traps.  It's easy to lose one's self.  It adds to the dread these kids go through, as they try all they can to stay alive but get themselves in more trouble by getting more lost.  The mine is like a character in itself with all the twists, turns, and challenges it can provide for the characters.

The special effects were pretty good as well.  There was some good use of blood and some pretty nasty wounds.  One particular blow to the head left a nice seeping gash on one girl that was very real looking.  And without spoiling it, all I will say is the part with the shovel was superb.  One of the best kills I have seen in a while.  You'll know it when you see it. 

Writer/directors Edwin Visser and Frank van Geloven did a good job creating characters that werent overly annoying.  Sometimes in slashers, you hope all the characters will die.  While there are a few that I couldnt wait to be slaughtered, I wasnt rooting for all their deaths.  I dont know if it was just Visser and van Geloven's writing or the acting, but at least the characters werent annoyingly bad like they sometimes can be in slashers. 

To say SL8N8 aka Slaughter Night was a great slasher is would be erroneous.  It is your standard flawed slasher that hits some of the typical cliches that one can expect from a slasher film. However, despite it's flaws and cookie cutter style it excels in its execution and entertainment value.  The gore was better than I expected and the story grabbed me and kept my attention.  It did all it could to be a very entertaining gore-filled slasher and succeeded.  Horror and slasher fans will take pleasure in this film because it is well-paced and provides some good bloody fun and excitement.  If this is what can be expected from horror films coming the Netherlands, then I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Dutch horror industry.

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