The Slaughterhouse Killer is a dark, dirty, and forbidding thriller that doesn’t let up. Moments of levity are scarce and visually and thematically we see the deepest darkest corners of human depravity. But the cast’s admirable intensity and the interesting storyline is weighed down by the maddeningly erratic audio, disorganized subplots, and lack of clear character motivations.
“A passion for slaughter keeps Box (Craig Ingham) in line at the local abattoir where he can quench his thirst for blood. When Nathan, a young parolee arrives in town, Box is instructed to take him under his wing, and soon the two men bond over a murder. Unable to resist the bloody temptations, the two form a friendship revolving around their sickness for killing. A friendship which is bad news for everyone in town.”
The Slaughterhouse Killer is not for the squeamish. When people are not being murdered, pigs are. And when pigs aren’t actively being murdered, their carcasses are prominently displayed like very grim ornaments. The overall tone of this film is unceasingly dark. Even the “happy moments” (if you can call them that) are fleeting and don’t really feel all that happy. That visual barrage of relentless homicide was an effective visual representation of humanity’s horrific capabilities.
Craig Ingham was astounding as Box. His unending malice and creep factor were so stellar that I would maybe cross the street to avoid him if I saw him in real life… just to be sure he wasn’t actually the character he was playing. Ingham hands down holds this film together and he is why you should watch the film. Don’t believe me? Look at the film poster and promo pictures–his face says it all. James Mason’s role as Nathan was much more subdued as the mild-mannered parolee. And though his role is not as in your face, it played nicely juxtaposed to Ingham’s completely unhinged maniac.
Despite the excitement and intrigue The Slaughterhouse Killer has, there were issues too large to turn a blind eye to. The audio was the film’s biggest obstacle. Much of the dialogue is muddied or lost to factory noise, weird acoustics, or ambient noise (cars, restaurant patrons, etc). The audio levels were not consistent and even though my hearing is perfect, I missed out on what was probably essential dialogue.
The character relationships develop early on which allows us to really get a sense of their dynamic as friends and as “business partners.” It makes their reactions to situations more believable and more meaningful. That being said, the characters were introduced in a way that felt rushed and haphazard. More specifically the introduction of Nathan’s girlfriend Tracey (Kristen Condon) felt so sudden and inorganic that their relationship never fully felt real.
My most favorite word in the entire world is “why.” There is something so internally satisfying about being able to answer that question, especially when it comes to the motivation of serial killers. But in The Slaughterhouse Killer, that question is never fully answered. The question as to why Box enjoys (as he puts it) “taking the wind out of things” remains a bit of a mystery. Don’t get me wrong–if the serial killer has no motivation that can be incredibly effective and elevate them to new sociopathic heights. But with Box he appears to have a motivation we just never get to find out what it is.
Overall, The Slaughterhouse Killer is a good idea that doesn’t realize its full potential. The main characters killed their roles but unfortunately some spotty storylines and faulty audio killed the film. Fans of dark films might want to give this a go but the issues present in the film may prove too much for the casual viewer.
5 out of 10