Fans of the classic 1980s masked slasher icons and those who love laughs with their horror will get a huge kick out of writer/director Shant Hamassian’s short film Night of the Slasher, which plays with well-worn tropes and stands the subgenre on its severed head.
As the film opens, Jenelle (Lily Berlina) takes off her jeans and dances around her living room, eventually revealing that she has a nasty scar on her throat. A gentleman caller (Scott Javore) comes to her house and we soon see that she has an agenda, thanks to her her “horror movie sins” checklist. After Jenelle goes through the requirements, the titular killer (Adam Lesar) arrives – in a Leonard Nimoy mask, a sly wink to Halloween’s Michael Myers – and the fun gets kicked up a notch. Jenelle is the only girl in the short, but will this only girl make it to final girl status?
Shant Hamassian takes his digs at eighties slasher fare with reverence, and the result is a fast-paced valentine to the subgenre. He makes Jenelle a smart, resourceful character who finds that the knife-wielding stalker isn’t as predictable as she expected – though he proves as hard to get rid of as the Michaels and Jasons who came before him. Lily Berlina is wonderful as the girl in peril, showing off a wide range of emotions, from funny to frightened, through facial expressions and delivering the goods when she faces off against her assailant.
Shant Hamassian’s lean and mean screenplay gets right down to business. The ratio of horror to humor is very well balanced. Scott Javore’s nerdy-but-nice schoolmate character gets the best lines in the short and the actor delivers them with solid comic timing. When it comes time for horror action, the pace picks up and never lets down until the clever climax, with Adam Lesar turning in a fine, creepy physical performance as the titular killer.
Something that sets Night of the Slasher apart from the myriad other meta-slasher efforts made since Scream (1996) is the “shot in one take” approach that it uses. It’s not easy to confirm whether this presentation is the result of seamless editing or whether it really was shot in a single take by director of photography Eli Tahan, but either way, the short looks fantastic and Shant Hamassian’s approach adds another level of fun to watching it. If this was indeed a single-take feat, the technical virtuosity behind it is stunning.
Simon Michel’s score is pitch perfect for the the tone of the short, and the eighties-style rock song “Dying for Love,” performed by Grayce, adds yet another playful aspect to the proceedings – make sure to give the lyrics by Jeff Phillips and Matt Cheadle a close listen because they certainly fit the story!
Night of the Slasher is currently on the film festival circuit and has been picking up numerous awards. Keep an eye out for screenings in your area at www.nightoftheslasher.com.
Night of the Slasher: (4.5 / 5)