When you think about schools and horror your mind is usually drawn to the High Schools and Frat Houses featured in an avalanche of American horror movies. From Carrie to Urban Legend, The Faculty to Scream Queens it seems being in school in the US is bad for your health.
That’s not to say here in good old Blighty we don’t have our own insanely unsettling institutions and I am not talking about lame ass Hogwarts either these ones are real. Elite boarding school’s founded eons ago litter the land where the children of powerful people are moulded to run the country usually through some disturbing initiation ceremonies and unhealthy hazing.
Modelling itself on these very real schools for the rich and influential Slaughterhouse Rulez takes the idea to the extreme with normal Northern lad Don Wallace (Peaky Blinders Finn Cole) finding himself enrolled in Slaughterhouse school after his Mum signs him up using his dead Dad’s money hoping Don can better himself and get out of the rut he is stuck in.
Don joins Sparta the house of the drop outs and weirdos along with his roommate Willoughby Blake (Asa Butterfield from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) and falls instantly in love with Clemsie Lawrence (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Hermione Corfield) an Upper Sixth girl who is way out of his league.
Thrown into the crazy world of strict rules and arcane traditions the Headmaster known as The Bat (Michael Sheen from The Twilight Saga) lays down the law and one important rule; never go into the woods. Why? Because the Head has sold the forest to some Frackers who are perilously pillaging the land. But when a giant sinkhole opens up something more than foul gas comes to the surface.
Featuring a brilliant cast of pupils and teachers Slaughterhouse Rulez showcases some top talent with Finn Cole, Asa Butterfield, Hermione Corfield and Isabella Laughland from Harry Potter as her cohort Kay all delivering likable turns as teens terrorized by tutors and monsters alike.
Better still are Simon Pegg and Nick Frost playing hilarious but vastly different characters to each other and from what they have done before. Pegg is Meredith Houseman a posh looser pining over his ex (played by Margot Robbie no less) who cares about the kids but lacks the back bone to help them. Frost is a frantic anti-Fracker campaigning and camping in the forest consuming magic mushrooms and spouting wisdom some of which ends up helping the kids defeat the terrible evil that has emerged from under the Earth.
Director and co-writer Crispian Mills, who many would know as the singer and guitarist of the groups Kula Shaker and The Jeevas, does a fine job delivering a solid story however the pace and tone are a slight issue throughout the film. Considering the looming omens present from the start it takes an age for the horror to get going with far too much of the running time given over to character development that isn’t needed.
When things do kick off the gore is great but this leads to the issue of tone and who the film is actually aimed at seeing that an adult audience would find the young cast and their teenage emotional trifles hard to engage with. Likewise the blood and guts going on alongside the initiation orgies and other sex talk push the ratting to a 15 limiting the younger audience able to enjoy Slaughterhouse Rulez which is a shame.
All this aside the monsters are marvelous from the design to the effects and once things escalate into anarchy the film is a wonderfully entertaining monster movie charging along into a great claustrophobic climax in the creepy caves the creatures have claimed.
As mentioned older horror fans might not be so enthused with this movie however teen terror lovers will get a great deal out of Slaughterhouse Rulez as it blends school days drama with a crazy creature feature and a sensational cast scoring top marks all round.