Don Wallace (Finn Cole) finds himself out of place in Slaughterhouse, a posh British boarding school. He soon befriends his roommate Blake (Asa Butterfield) who helps guide him through the rules and hierarchy of the academy. Running out of money, the headmaster (Michael Sheen) strikes a deal with a fracking company and these operations unveil a dark, secret underground. Soon, the teachers and pupils alike find themselves under attack from strange subterranean creatures.

'Slaughterhouse Rulez' has its sights set firmly on the British comedy horror genre and follows in the footsteps of ‘Attack the Block’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead’, although it never reaches the same heights of its biggest influences, it's still an enjoyable romp.

Crispian Mills is a capable enough director but he lacks the comedy finesse of Edgar Wright or the ultraviolent bravado of Neil Marshall to raise the film from its lacklustre script. If the pacing was tighter, a lot of the flaws would be less noticeable or easier to forgive. It feels like two films welded together and more time in the writers' room could have really brought something interesting to the table.

The first half of the film is a heavy-handed satire with hit and miss moments. Set in a public school, it often goes out of its way to mention that this is the environment that the future leaders of Britain are reared in and why this is a bad idea, and these bits can really work especially when Michael Sheen, brilliant as ever, is chewing the scenery. The fracking company are also pantomime-esque levels of villainy and it is great fun seeing their comeuppance. However, overall, the satire is too weak to work effectively and it feels tacked on as an afterthought, especially since it dissipates as soon as the gore kicks in.

The latter part of the film is action heavy and finds slightly firmer footing in these sections. There is a good variety of effects on display with a nice mix of violence and comedy. Unfortunately, there are too many genre tropes crammed into the film and the action halts to fit these in, even if they are unnecessary or warranted.

Some will also find the film too referential, especially with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in supporting roles on and off camera. Blake’s wall is adorned with a myriad of pop culture references of the past but it is hard to believe that a teenager in this day and age would be hanging pictures of Lou Reed and Malcolm McDowell on the wall.

The cast is great and even though the characters are barely two dimensional, the actors really add a lot of enjoyment and keep scenes zipping along when they can.

If you are looking for a mindless adventure with a few jumps scares, Slaughterhouse Rulez is worth the price of admission. Ultimately it feels like a missed opportunity and like the film's monsters, there is a much more interesting horror comedy lurking within the depths.

 

James W. Anderson