Spoilers will come out of the sewer.
You know it’s going to be cool when “rules” is spelled with a z. Okey, let’s set the game rulez here. Sometimes you just need a fun and dumb movie. It is obvious from the start this is one of those coming of age stories where the underdogs are kicked when their down until something fowl and nasty shows up. Then when it really matters, the bullies will get killed and the zeroes will turn to heroes. It’s not supposed to make sense, it’s just for you to turn off your brain and cheer for the monsters. Also, don’t be fooled by the big names in the casting. In keeping with horror tradition, the adults are useless and the teenagers will have to do all the work. Not that there’s really any real horror here.
Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018) was written and directed by Crispin Mills who wrote the screenplay with Henry Fitzherbert. Donald Wallace (Finn Cole) is transferred into an exclusive public boarding school in the most underestimated of houses, Sparta house. There he learns the ropes from his jaded classmate, Willoughby Blake (Asa Butterfield). The pecking order is brutal, with sadistic house prefects abusing their power and bullying them every moment of the day. It doesn’t help that Donnie has developed a crush on upper class princess Clemsie Lawrence (Hermione Corfield). Or that the Headmaster (Michael Sheen) has gotten greedy by allowing a ruthless fracking company to drill on school grounds. All that fracking awakens some things that haven’t seen the light of day in centuries and… Well, there goes the neighborhood.
The movie does push forward the name of Margot Robbie, which we’ll see inside a phone screen for a few minutes at a time and no more. She plays Audrey, the lost love of the Sparta Housemaster, Meredith Houseman (Simon Pegg) and it’s a minimal cameo role. Simon Pegg does half a decent job playing the neurotic and heartbroken shell of Meredith, but he’s still a background character here. Nick Frost plays the conspiracy theorist pot-smoking Woody Chapman, which we will also see a few times just to do some foreboding as the fracking business continues and disaster looms.
As horror comedies go, the film does have a bit of dull double edge. The comedy is there and it’s mostly light fare with funny moments but nothing particularly hilarious. Horror-wise seems to have even less of a bite as we’re not really going for scary at any point. Most of the gore is practical, so at least we don’t get any cringy cgi stuff but the monsters do tend to fall into the puppet camp of rubber monsters more often than not. It’s good that they’re kept mostly in the dark for that reason. Make sure you’re willing to stretch your suspension of disbelief, or just don’t pay attention too close.
The performances of the younger cast are rather good in most cases, which plays to the movie strengths. Finn Cole does an acceptable job as Donnie. I do think Asa Butterfield steals the screen as Willoughby, who is a much more nuanced character. Hermione Corfield is much more than a face as Clemsie, being more self-aware than your regular teenager. She does have a scene in which she’s forced to take off her shirt to get rid of a critter. This would’ve worked better as a parody. Perhaps it was intended as such but it lacked the setup.
Lightly recommended with the kind of audience that comments back at the screen. The younger cast does a good job at being endearing, some more than others. I will single out Asa Butterfield, who seems to show a little more character and agency as Willoughby, but the young cast is pretty decent. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are here as secondary characters, but please don’t expect Margot Robbie to show up except on a video call. Although it’s light fare, it might make your night if you’re willing to turn off your mind for a few. Someone pass the popcorn.
That will do for now.