Saturday, November 05, 2022

Slayers – review

Director: K. Asher Levin

Release date: 2022

Contains spoilers

This should have been a genuinely fun take on the genre but it managed to get bogged down in its own conceits and gimmicks rather than exploiting the elements that would have made it a fun actioner. There were parts of the plot that were unexplained and underexplored but, overall, a lot more concentration on either action and/or character would have done the film wonders and a consistently thought through (or explained at least) lore would have been peachy.

opening slideshow

The film starts with a narration over images of world history and then vampires and slayers. For some reason these images are often doubled up. The voiceover tells us that since the dawn of time there have been vampires. These creatures fed on the blood of small mammals (so not exactly the dawn of time then) until they realised that drinking the blood of humans would give them immortality.


Since then, humans and vampires have been at war, with the humans almost being victorious and so the vampires dispersed and, when they returned, took to hiding amongst humans. Slayers continued the war in secret and several famous ones are mentioned including Joan of Arc and Benjamin Franklin. This takes us to the modern day and the primary slayer of this film, Elliott Jones (Thomas Jane, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). We also hear that vampires (the Vampire Illuminate) essentially run the world.

the stream team

We then meet the primary players in the film, a group of successful influencers known as the Stream Team and called Jack (Jack Donnelly, Atlantis), his partner Liz (Lydia Hearst), his sister Flynn (Kara Hayward) and their friend Jules (Abigail Breslin). Jack and Liz are supposed to be having a very public wedding. The team is managed by David (Ash T) and he has approached them about an exciting opportunity. Biotech billionaire Steven Rektor (Adam Ambruso) has invited them to his ranch to offer them a deal.

the Rektors

Most of the team are excited – Liz and Jack postponing the wedding to go. After all, Rektor is a known philanthropist. Flynn is not convinced and something feels off. She can’t understand why they are postponing the wedding (Jack admits not all of their current monetizing schemes have been as successful as past ones). They do go, however, but are intercepted en route by Jones who (in his gruff, bearded persona that makes him seem more Whistler than Blade) tries to warn them off. This is one of the bits that makes little sense. Whilst his research, we later hear, has brought Jack and Flynn onto his radar there is no reason why he should know about them going to the ranch that particular day. The kids don’t listen to the crazy man offering vague threats but Flynn does take papers that suggest Rektor is bad (though the V word isn’t mentioned).

Liz turned

So, very soon the kids are in trouble; Rektor and his wife, Beverley (Malin Akerman), are vampire royalty but there is some form of illness within the vampires that means their bodies are not lasting. Therefore, they have to pass their spirits to new vessels and, with Jack and Flynn they believe they have found a cure as they are related to the bloodline – this made little sense when you scratched the surface, especially as they weren’t aiming to possess Flynn as Jack and Liz were the couple.


The trouble is there is no long seduction here, they move on the kids fairly quickly and we also get cop outs like the killing of David which is only represented by a scream and not the attack. Flynn (whose online presence is around gaming) and Jones are soon working together to defeat the vampires (with Flynn live streaming their efforts). I didn’t like some of the online aspects such as a group of kids live streaming about the influencers or gimmicks such as Batman-style attack words on screen, indeed the score card that went up when a human or vampire was killed felt trite and was made worse by starting during the backstory for Jones and the murder of his daughter (Julia Sandstrom) by Rektor. It was this that confused the tone, as did the very poor aim at comedy rather than making this action and horror.


That action is poor, we get an explosion of it at the end with some level of gore, but this should have been taking a leaf out of other genre films that concentrate on the slayers, notably Blade and (John Carpenter's) Vampires, and putting decent, well-choreographed action through the film. It also pulled its punches during the scenes we got, meaning the gore was generally low and the horror equally low. 

tooth and claw

We got very little lore communicated. The vampires seemed to be able to go out in sunlight, cast a reflection and have both fangs and one long talon; and we are told that they are impacted by religious objects, violently reacted to garlic (essence), are killed by a stake or silver blade to the heart and a bite of four seconds or longer turns. We got three other vampire kings mentioned; Vlad Ţepeş D.B. Cooper and Jack the Ripper. They also suggest Bram Stoker was a vampire and Dracula was written to hide the truth (which made no logical sense given that they used killing methods that were in Stoker's novel).

Thomas Jane as Jones

Acting was ok. Thomas Jane pulled off 'grumpy old slayer' but that wasn’t what we needed to make us bond with the character and we needed to because the other characters were paper thin. That included all of the influencers who were simply throw away stereotypes and we needed more, at least around Flynn, to make us care – given that the horror and the action were barely there then characters were absolutely necessary. This wasn’t a fault of the actors, rather the characters didn’t appear to be fleshed-out through the script, at all. That said, I have seen worse but this was ultimately forgettable; 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK


Ghostly said...

One thing did notice was how near the end Liz's fangs changed, from canine type to tru blood type and back again.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

good spot