Slasher has moved around more than those bad neighbours you used to have.
Having bounced around from Super Channel and Chiller to Netflix, the series has landed at Shudder for its fourth season.
The original series, The Executioner, starred Merlin’s Katie McGrath as a woman with a troubled past who moves back to her hometown setting into motion a series of brutal murders by a mysterious killer. The first season remains as the very best instalment of the series. The assemble cast worked so well together with McGrath carrying the flag, the kills were ferociously merciless and the mystery was riveting. Many members of the cast have appeared in future seasons playing different characters.
Guilty Party, the second season, was another bloody, smart and cunning camp counsellor whodunit this time at a winter resort, bed and breakfast kind of deal.
The third season though was a complete disaster mostly because the showrunners prioritized an agenda over good storytelling as many American Netflix series do these days. Solstice and its silly Druid killer are best left ignored and it is easy to do so because each Slasher season is a self-contained series that you can jump in at any point and not be confused.
Flesh and Blood, the latest season, centers on such a dysfunctional family that make the Griffins look like the Cleavers. They are killed off one by one by yet another masked killer in the series. Legendary Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg (Rabid, Shivers, Scanners, Videodrome) stars as the cantankerous patriarch of the family and he has a hell of a lot of fun in the role. The corporate bulldog pulls their strings with fiendish glee. His latest diabolical scheme is to force them all to compete for the entire fortune he has amassed over his lifetime. On top of all of that mayhem, a serial killer is stalking the family.
So, it is like Survivor, Big Brother and Amazing Race with chainsaws, hatchets and wood chippers. A reality competition meshed with the iconic Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
Those Christie elements are part of a tried and true formula that have inspired everything from the TV’s Harper’s Island to the 2003 movie Identity and they are incorporated well in Flesh and Blood and its motley crew of characters. The family intrigue, inner squabbles though are Bold and the Beautiful levels of cringe and corniness sometimes. There’s a prodigal son, a wacky new age artist, bitter sibling rivalries, etc. You get the idea.
Where the series always delivers though is the horror elements and the fun, gory, imaginative kills. Flesh & Blood is no different in that regard. A particularly nasty scene involves an acidic substance being injected into a victim’s veins and an all-out brawl in which three of the characters go all medieval on each other. That scene alone is worth watching the series for. It is really vicious and oh, so fabulous.
One does wonder though if the family hacking each other to pieces for all that money would have been enough as at times it seems the serial killer has just been shoehorned into the story because they are a series staple.
Having access to only four of the eight episodes my impressions are admitted very limited. I cannot rate the entirety of the series as I don’t know whether it rises or falls as the season plays itself out. What I can say is that it begins on strong footing despite the wobbly soap opera elements and that is because the horror elements are so strong and David Cronenberg is such a joy to watch as he revels in his role. The first half of the series will be appreciated by horror fans as the series has gone back to its roots, the great success of the very first season. Slasher: Flesh & Blood is definitely worth checking out. Should you stick with it? Time will certainly tell.
Slasher: Flesh & Blood debuts on Shudder on Thursday, August 12th.