The first thing that comes to your mind when you think about vampires and vampire hunting probably isn’t “doomsday cult.” In fact, I’d wager that’s nowhere on the list for the vast majority of people. That’s what makes The Slayers so brilliant even among other inventive indie vampire movies – it’s a work of zany genius.
Job (Matthew Sandland) and Nigel (Darren McAree) are members of the BSCC (Big Scary Comet Cult), a fictional group of Charismatics with a strong resemblance to Heaven’s Gate. Led by Brother Steve (Anthony Miles), the group is all set to poison themselves in anticipation of a comet destroying the Earth. Only, when the time comes, Job and Nigel hesitate. After all, if everyone’s going to die soon anyway, why not have some fun in their last two weeks on Earth?
The duo set out for Scotland in a camper van, brainstorming a bucket list of things to do before the comet comes, and calling distant relatives with their brutally honest opinions about them along the way. In their attempts to do good, they even pick up a hitchhiker (after driving past him, then breaking down, then having their engine fixed by said hitchhiker.) Then, when the hitchhiker needs to “stop for a drink,” they discover that he’s a vampire. One thing leads to another, and the bumbling duo team up with a seasoned vampire hunter (George Newton), a pair of cute girls from a neighboring campsite, and an over-the-top stoic vampire hunter duo who repeatedly insist they “work alone.” It’s a ridiculous, hilarious horror-comedy with a well-executed 1990s setting that lends charm to an outlandish premise.
This John Williams outing could be compared to Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, favorably or not, but I don’t think that’s fair. Yes, it is an Extremely British Horror Comedy, but Wright doesn’t hold the patent on that. British humor can have a distinctive flavor, but that doesn’t mean that every movie with a similar sense of humor is trying to copy every other movie. If you’re used to the likes of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, then you’ll probably find The Slayers a bit toned down in its violence and gore, a bit cheesier in its special effects, and a bit cruder in its humor. Which brings me to what I did not care for at all about this movie.
Just because it’s set in the 90s doesn’t mean it has to be as insensitive toward disabled people as humor in the 90s was. I admit, as an autistic person, I found a couple of the jokes funny (“That’s just my autistic side.” “I didn’t know you were creative!”) but they were, for the most part, a bit much. Making fun of people with mental disabilities and dwarfism is plain lazy at this point, and I hoped for better.
That said, however, I do think The Slayers is genuinely funny when it tries to be. I watched it while on a major depressive downswing, and it really cheered me up. The acting is good, the music is great, and the animated transitions between scenes are a nice touch. It never takes itself too seriously, and that’s the important thing.
7 out of 10