NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on August 12, 2021
The 4th season of the series Slasher, going by the subtitle “Flesh and Blood”, follows the Galloway family. The patriarch of the Galloway family, Spencer Galloway (David Croenenberg) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has decided to set up a competition on his personal island in order to see who among his family (including his wife, children and grandchildren) will end up with his entire fortune.
The competition is a series of events with varying levels of potential danger with one member of the family being eliminated every event. The competition will bring out the worst in the Galloway’s, opening old wounds and testing the limits of their already strained relationships. While all this is going on, a mysterious person with a top hat and white mask is going around and picking off the people trapped on this island one at a time. Who will end up with the entire Galloway fortune and just who is the man behind the mask? Well clearly that’s something you’ll have to wait until episode 8 to find out, we’re only talking about episodes 1 & 2 today so I can’t answer those questions I just brought up.
Flesh and Blood feels like a curious combination between Succession and Ready or Not by way of the cheesy 80s slashers that this series loves emulating. For a large bulk of the early runtime the series really plays with the idea of this reprehensible family who would do anything to screw each other over in order to win this little competition, to the point where you almost just expect the family to try and kill each other off. There’s even one point in episode 2 where one of the Galloway’s just straight up maims another family member…and its only the second most shocking moment of the episode.
Of course this strange little family drama can’t stay subtle for long because this is Slasher, a series that has never been fond of subtlety so of course it very quickly starts doing the one thing most people come to this series to see… shocking graphic violence reminiscent of the classic Savini days. Slasher’s always been pretty good about just going balls to the wall with the elements that make a Slasher what it is (…that’d be the slashing) and this season they really are just ramping it up. The first kill alone had me, an avowed horror nut who absolutely loves this subgenre, wincing a little in shock that they got away with that. Shudder clearly told them that they were supposed to push the violence to the limit and damn it if they didn’t live up to that.
They also get a ton of credit for a interesting diverse cast, not only with various people of colour but a queer non-binary character actually played by a queer non-binary actor. It’s a cast that feels like it belongs in a modern day story and all of them are genuinely fascinating in different ways, to the point that I’m sure several of them are going to make it very emotional when the time comes for the creepy guy in the mask and top hat to kill them.
Episode 1, Thicker Than Water, acts mostly as a setup where we get to meet our large cast of characters (13 people, 11 of them Galloways, so that’s why I’m not naming them all here) and set up the main competition. The highlight of the entire episode is David Cronenberg as the angry patriarch setting everything in motion, he basically sets himself up as the scene stealer for the entire season and it’s going to be interesting to see what he does. Outside of that, the rest of the family slowly starts revealing their dislike for each other, we learn about how one of them had been kidnapped as a child and get to meet the nurse that Spencer hired to help him with his end of life care. It’s mostly just setting everything up but it also has two brutally shocking kills that actually had my jaw on the floor.
Episode 2, The Sins of the Father, is where the actual contest for Spencer’s money begins. It really sets up just how intense this competition is going to be and also, shockingly early in the franchise, lets the main characters all know that there is something very sinister going on and that there is someone else on the island who is starting to pick them off. This is where the series really starts getting interesting with the competition showing just how vile these people can be and giving us another for the inevitably long list of great kills (Seriously, the final 5-10 minutes are just incredibly horrific).
The only place where the series genuinely falters is the writing, a fair chunk of the dialogue is stilted and weird to the point where it feels even more unnatural than one would expect from this genre. Hopefully that improves as the series goes on because the actual ideas on display and the setup are a lot of fun, it’s just sometimes hard to really engage with the dialogue when a lot of it feels off.
For what is, the first quarter of Slasher: Flesh and Blood is moving a lot faster than I would’ve expected it to. It’s body count is already growing fast, especially considering it’s a cast of 13 people in an 8 episode series that takes place on an island where they really can’t just have someone turn up to heighten the body count. The ending of the second episode is something that I might’ve expected to happen around halfway through the season so it’s going to be interesting to see how they maintain this for 6 more episodes.
If you’re a fan of the classic slasher movies that didn’t skimp on the blood and shock factor, then yeah this is going to be in your wheelhouse. It’s not exactly what one could consider high art, but it’s a fun enough time that I’m excited to see just what happens over the next 6 episodes.