Movie Review: ‘SLICE’ proves you can mess up a sure thing

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Kip Mooney // Film Critic

SLICE

Not Rated, 82 minutes.
Director: Austin Vesely
Cast: Chance the RapperZazie BeetzRae GrayLakin ValdezChris Parnell and Paul Scheer

A24 has proven itself to be the Miramax of the modern age. They pick up and finance a lot of great movies, many of which get nominated for a boatload of awards. But even with a mostly great track record, they can send out some duds. So while the first trailers for SLICE made it seem like a fun horror comedy, we now know why they dumped the film straight to VOD: despite all the talent involved, this one’s a stinker.

It should have been a sure thing. A music video director transitions to filmmaking, aided by musician friend (Chance) and a lot of funny people. It’s got a synth-heavy score, an ’80s aesthetic, and the approval of the most powerful independent film studio. But all audiences get is reheated leftovers in a nice box.

SLICE tries to cram so many horror tropes into 85 minutes that everything ends up both overcooked and underdeveloped. There’s a whole plot about how ghosts have been quarantined to a bad part of town, but there’s also a serial killer, a werewolf, a coven of witches and a portal to hell. There’s also a journalist demanding some respect around here. With all that, there’s no time for any of it to feel important.

The film would be charming if it weren’t trying so hard. A horror-comedy should at least be funny or scary, yet it’s neither. But it’s not bad enough to earn its desperate midnight movie status. This isn’t TROLL 2 or even THE GINGERDEAD MAN. It’s not good enough to earn comparisons to any of the movies it’s shamelessly ripping off. It’s just a group of talented comic performers slumming it for what’s basically a goof. Hannibal Burress could have at least livened things up with his commentary, but he must have been busy, since he’s only here for a cameo. None of the effects or make-up are particularly good, which even some of the crummiest low-budget horror shlock can manage.

This is the indie SHARKNADO, but it’s so exhausting it feels like one of that franchise’s later sequels. I wanted to at least have fun, but SLICE didn’t even give me that. Save your money for some good pizza instead.

[Grade: D+]

SLICE is now available on ITunes, Amazon and all other digital platforms.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.