Slaughterhouse boarding school is an aristocratic playground housing some of the children of Britain’s most elite families. Alongside institutional studies, a long list of leisure activities are available, such as junior military, golf, and chess just to name a few. For new pupil Don Wallace, attending Slaughterhouse was just to please his mom’s persistence that soon sparked mixed feelings about his new surroundings between finding his place in the student vicious hierarchy and being in the company of the girl of his dreams: Clemsie Lawrence. The school also has a new headmaster, one who has made lucrative dealings with a fracking company for the extraction of natural gas at the outer rim of school grounds, but the seismic tremors caused by fracking result in large sinkhole, unleashing a horde of underground dwelling beasts that run rampant on campus grounds hungry for a meaty school lunch. It’s up to Don Wallace and his misfit school chums, plus one miserable school educator, to fight back in order to escape with their lives.
Boarding schools, especially the British ones, inherently have an intimidating nature about them and if the comfort decimating idea of being housed away from your parents isn’t frightening enough, the upper-crust cliques and sovereign clubs are an assumed terrorizing, foreboding thought – just look at all the paranormal and murderous boarding school incidents that happened to Jennifer Connolly’s character in “Phenomena” (aka “Creepers”). In Crispian Mills’ sophomore written and directed feature, also co-written with Henry Fitzherbert, “Slaughterhouse Rulez” is another boarding school that can be chalked up as being a killer institution adding big ugly beasts shredding through the student body as the antagonistic creature in this feature. The 2018 comedy-action-horror is produced in the UK as the first film from the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost production company, Stolen Picture. Pegg and Frost have a long and hilarious history together, breaking out internationally with the modern classic “Shaun of the Dead” and continuously worked together on various projects throughout the last 19 years since their George A Romero inspired success. The usually buddy comedy duo have reunited once again for Mills “Slaughterhouse Rulez” as supporting, yet memorable, characters that do steal the show.
“Slaughterhouse Rulez” mainly focuses around Don Wallace, the new teen on the scene who tries to live up to this standards his deceased father’s worked hard for, and Wallace, played by “Peaky Blinders” regular Finn Cole, goes through the motions of being the new kid in school that quickly discovers who his enemies are, as an outsider forced to be friend with the school black sheep, and falls heads over heels for the most popular girl on campus. Cole’s especially charming for most of the performance, but can flip his character to being weak in the knees and want to be reclusive when pushed too hard. Opposite love interest, Clemsie Lawrence (Hermione Corfield of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”), provides little insight into her perceptions of Wallace as the character does a 180 degree regarding her feelings for him, but Clemsie sure does have reason to withhold how she really feels by being a Goddess and being under surveillance by Clegg, a legacy God who takes his title literally as a divinity itself and has a sadistic iron fist for those who buy their way into Slaughterhouse. Clegg is a stone-faced psychopath performed very blunt by Tom Rhys Harries Wallace’s friend by roommate association, Willoughby Blake, is a social outcast who loves to live in isolation. Asa Butterfield, from “The Wolfman” remake and “Ender’s Game,” sizes up Willoughby crutched by depression and drugs as the most complex character with a dreadful secret. “Slaughterhouse Rulez” continues with an amazing lineup of talent that include Michael Sheen (“Underworld” franchise), Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad”), Isabella Laughland (“Harry Potter” franchise), Kit Connor, Jamie Blackley (“Vampyr”), and, of course, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Mills’ anti-fracking and subterranean monster flick isn’t all action and blood. For the first 2/3 of “Slaughterhouse Rules,” the filmmaker initially barely hints at a creature feature and harnesses to express his inner John Hughes with his attempt at a coming-to-age horror-comedy bursting with adolescent complexities, such as drug use, depression, suicide, bullying, love, adult and peer pressure, social differences, and so forth, that becomes heavily cloaked in humor and horror in the same vein as “Shaun of the Dead.” All the buildup of the teen dynamic comes to a screeching halt; literally, a bloodthirsty monster screeching when unearthed from the fracking folly killed, in a whole bunch of various degrees of the term, all the pre-apocalyptic adolescent shrapnel and turned it on its head as a means of overcoming the difficulties of the Slaughterhouse boarding school, relinquishing the difficulties into a honky-dory finale.
PER CAEDES AD ASTRA! “Through adversity to the stars” does the Stolen Picture produced “Slaughterhouse Rulez” find itself on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Presented in an anamorphic widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the digital picture maintains a rather seamless presentation though I though there could have been a little more pop in the coloring. Director of photography, John De Borman, did a phenomenal job with the lighting through the woods, the school grounds, and the labyrinth maze under the school; a reminiscing aspect from his earlier work in Stephen Norrington’s “Death Machine.” The English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track caters to every whim. Range and depth were good, especially with the beasts’ roars/howls. Dialogue is prominent, yet I still have a hard time with the English accent. Also available is an English Audio Description Track, French (PAR), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles for a film that runs 104 minutes. Unfortunately, there is no bonus material. “Slaughterhouse Rulez” has the Pegg/Frost humor that we’re all now familiar with and still retains the funny, even if some of it is British-ly dry! With that said, Crispian Mills’ film observes adolescent behavior while also being blood splattering entertainment through the razor sharps jaws of the hounds from fracking hell!