Directed by Austin Vesely.
Starring Zazie Beetz, Chance Bennett, Joe Keery, Chris Parnell, and Paul Scheer.
In a spooky small town of Kingfisher, the residents attempt to deal with the murder of a pizza delivery boy. Is it one of the ghosts they share the area with or is it another one of many grave evils that lurk? Two people (Zazie Beetz & Chance Bennett) set out to catch whoever the culprit is while trying to get through their issues.
Slice is exactly like the food at your local pizza restaurant, same parts delicious and not good for you. Don’t worry though; you’ll be going back for seconds. Writer and director Austin Vesely crafts one of the most intriguing films in A24′s catalog, a throwback to VHS horror filled with the 90’s cheese. While the brand is known for prestige horrors like Hereditary and It Comes At Night, this is closer to films like 1985’s Return of the Living Dead and 1993’s Dead Alive.
Much like the cult classics mentioned, Slice blends horror and comedic elements effortlessly. Things go from hilariously campy to insanely macabre within the same scene, never letting either style outshine another. The highlight is the final act that jumps from wildly dark to laugh-out-loud funny at the same time. The comedic cast works well in this dark and hilarious world, one of those moments that everyone knew what movie they were making. Something most campy film strives to achieve.
The story for Slice is as fun to explain as it is to watch. The small town of Kingfisher is dealing with the murder of multiple pizza delivery drivers and the return of a werewolf named Dax (Chance Bennett). He is joined by Astrid (Zazie Beetz) in an attempt to figure out who the real murderer is, as well as clear the name of Dax in the investigation. It also seems like the root of all this evil is coming from Perfect Pizza, the shop run by Jack (Paul Scheer). Think Poltergeist but for the hipster generation.
For a lot of horror fans, they don’t make films like Slice anymore. Current films in the horror comedy genre usually lean heavily towards one style and not thoroughly blending both. Only recent films like Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil and Cooties can compare to something as well-crafted as this. It’s impressive to see two vastly different genres blend so well, and director Austin Vesely is to thank for that great feat. Vesely usually works closely with Chance Bennett – also known as Chance The Rapper – and they need to team up in a film more often as this is an enjoyable viewing from start to finish. Like previously stated as well, this is something you crave more of almost instantly. This movie needs a sequel or a great show on a streaming service.
All of this praise doesn’t mean Slice is a masterpiece. There are some flaws with forced comedy and weak effects throughout, distracting from some otherwise memorable sequences. More than a handful of the jokes were “groaners” and never went the extra mile for a genuine laugh. Feels like that one friend who makes so many puns and they rarely land one, but when they finally do, it works so well. Usually the less slapstick and more horror-based humor shine, but those do come a bit scattered. With actors like Chris Parnell and Paul Scheer, viewers know the comedy that awaits.
Going to the visual effects, it seems like the budget went to a fantastic score and less on some striking makeup and CG effects. The undead makes a rung below Beetlejuice, making all the ghost look dirty more than dead. All the random moments of gore throughout is a bit better than the ghost makeup with the slasher having some solid on-screen kills. Now, when it comes to the visual effects, things are shaky again. When the Hellmouth opens up under the pizza place, it reminds me of 2016’s Ghostbusters, and that’s not a compliment. It comes off like kid-friendly than real horror comedy stuff.
It also takes a while for the actual plot to kick into gear, an example being the pairing of Bennett’s Dax and Beetz’s Astrid don’t team up until the final act. Putting them together earlier would’ve allowed for a more cohesive story. That does lead to a conversation about the pacing of this story. There was never a consistent speed at which action happened, sometimes nothing happens for a stretch of time and then a bunch of plot things happening quickly. No real beats to follow and almost making it feel more tedious to watch than it should, the plot was saved once the final act started. The real story finally got underway, and the entertainment factor goes way up the last 20 minutes or so.
Even with these flaws, Slice is still one of the more enjoyable films of 2018. Going back the pizza analogy, this is like ordering from your favorite family-owned – hopefully not satanic – pizzeria. Expect the fun to be cheap and greasy, but you know it’s what you crave. Don’t let anyone guilt you for enjoying a big slice of horror comedy like this!
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
EJ Moreno – Follow me on Twitter @EJKhryst