What do you do when your cast would look silly faking English accents? You change your setting from London, England to Toronto, Canada. And that is just one bad decision among so many that ruins Slasher: Ripper.
Slasher: Ripper is one of those shows that wants not only to take you back in history but for you to feel you are actually transported back to that time. That’s why they spend so much on the costumes, the interiors, the exteriors and all that jazz. They want to really draw you into the time period. The problem is all of that effort is really just a facade because Slasher: Ripper doesn’t portray history as it really was. Now, nobody expects a horror television series to be a comprehensive history lesson but certainly you would think the show-runners would at least respect the history of the Toronto police force.
But, I digress.
Ripper also drops the ball on many other aspects which is surprising as this is the same team that brought us three solid seasons in the past including the rip-roaring Flesh & Blood season in 2021. Unfortunately, the series has slipped back, regressed to the quality we experienced with the abysmal third season, Solstice, when the series was still on Netflix. It has since moved new seasons and new episodes to Shudder.
The root of Slasher’s issues this season is Ripper’s actual story is so dopey and silly. Why? The overall view of life, society is that of a high school student and that drags the plot down to Challenge of the Super Friends level of maturity. The mentality at work is that all rich people are evil and malicious. All religious people are deceitful and corrupt. All police officers, except our main hero, are crooked. All impoverished people are virtuous, noble and benevolent. It is kid stuff, an insult to anyone whose way of thinking has evolved beyond Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and grade school. Not that there is anything wrong with Sentai but it is what it is, right? Not taking it seriously, reveling in its immaturity is all part of the fun. Telling such a serious story, in which people have their body parts chopped off, with that level of sophistication isn’t.
The hero of our sloppy story is Detective Kenneth Rijkers (Gabriel Darku), a newly-appointed police detective who is trying to make his mark and impress the higher-ups. Darku was great in ReBoot: The Guardian Code, Shadowrunners and October Faction but here he is just awful. No matter what is happening around him he is wooden, stone-faced and emotionless. I don’t blame Darku for this. I blame the producers for casting him in a role that doesn’t suit his skills, his wheelhouse and just bumbling and forging ahead anyway.
Rijkers is on the trail of The Widow, a mysterious and vengeful vigilante, who haunts the red light district “meting out justice against the rich and powerful”. Sigh. Only four episodes have been released to the press so I don’t know and honestly don’t care who The Widow turns out to be although I can probably guess based on the sophomoric plot but what I do know is I wouldn’t be surprised if it is Jeeja Yanin or Kara Hui under that veil because The Widow strikes with the efficiency of a ninja and is able to easily throw, out-muscle and beat the snot out of men two or three times their size.
The Widow’s current undertaking is knocking off anyone who was involved in the death of a “heart of gold” prostitute many years ago. The big baddie in all of this is Will and Grace’s Eric McCormack as Basil Garvey, a nefarious corporate kingpin who has shady past, present and future and has his hands in many of the city’s most prominent businesses. Although everyone is sure he is up to his neck in filth and corruption he is untouchable because he has everyone from the police to politicians in his back pocket. While he is menacing and creepy at times the way Garvey is written and portrayed, McCormack comes off as a real-life version of Snidely Whiplash playing cat and mouse with Darku’s Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties.
Cluttering the already jumbled story are sub-plots involving Garvey’s lackeys, a magician who claims to communicate with the dead, a brothel owner, the murder of a possible Canadian Jack the Ripper and I kid you not, a riff on Cinderella involving two evil stepsisters. Those who have followed the Slasher series from the start will spot appearances by series regulars such as Katie McGrath, Christopher Jacot, Paula Brancati, etc. Some of them transition well into the trip back in time and some don’t act or appear any different than they have before which also kills the atmosphere.
Speaking of kills, the ultra violence the Slasher series has been known for has been really toned down for Ripper as has the creativity of those kills. Much of the time the camera pans away before the real damage is done. All we see is blood splattering on walls and the aftermath, the decimated corpse in all its goriness.
Slasher Ripper is a case of show-runners biting off far more than they can chew or digest. Ripper’s story is too bloated, too ridiculous and is as glaringly counterfeit as a Loonie with Eugene Levy’s face on it. We just don’t buy into anything these show-runners are selling. They should have stuck to what they excel at and that is Scream-like, Giallo-like, And Then There Were None blood-drenched tributes instead of a Gothic Hammer ripoff without all the atmosphere that makes those films so great in the first place.
Slasher Ripper and Slasher: Flesh and Blood are currently available to stream on Shudder.