It feels like only yesterday that A24, the prolific company behind such films as The Witch and Hereditary, announced a surprise new horror comedy, Slice. It practically was yesterday that A24 then shockingly alerted fans that Slice was abruptly dropping on VOD, having released this past Tuesday. Now, after watching, I can see why A24 was so eager to sweep this one under the counter with the rest of the crumbs and roaches…
…Written/directed by Austin Vesely, Slice revolves around a group of pizza delivery drivers desperately trying to figure who or what is killing them off on the job. But in a town full of drug dealers, ghosts, and even a werewolf, the suspects are plenty.
Let me just start by saying that Slice is unlike anything A24 has released before, at least in the horror realm, and in this case, that isn’t at all a good thing. But, I really wanted it to be. The trailer for Slice promised a stylish, unique horror comedy utterly oozing with 80s homage. And as a horror fan craving more horror like that, and coming from A24 no less, drool was dripping from my fangs. But, different doesn’t always mean good, and in the case of Slice, the apple has fallen far, far, FAR from the respectable tree of A24’s library.
It all begins with the cast. Slice features plenty of well-known comedic actors, such as Chris Parnell, Paul Scheer, Hannibal Buress, and Zazie Beetz. All of them great at what they do. Hell, even Chance the Rapper makes an appearance. The problem is, no one is selling it. Each and every single actor/actress in the film feels tired, like they either can’t believe they’re doing this movie or have no idea what’s going on. They simply aren’t believable. Of course, this isn’t all on the cast, as most of Vesely’s dialogue is so awkward, everyone appears to struggle delivering their lines, as if the lines themselves are leaving a bad taste in their mouths, which is understandable. If words had odors and ears could smell, there’d be a faint stench of baby vomit making my eardrums to flinch. The script just isn’t funny, and the experienced cast seems to know it. At times, the delivery can be hard to watch, because the ONLY way that comedy works is if the comedian believes in the joke. But for a cast of comedic veterans, Slice is so tragically unfunny that you’ll have to pinch yourself to make sure you haven’t died and become a part of Ghost Town from the film.
Speaking of Ghost Town, Slice is an unnecessarily complicated film for running at just over eighty minutes. It isn’t enough that Vesely asks us to buy some vague concept about citizens that turn into zombie-like “ghosts” and are sequestered to the other side of town, known as Ghost Town, but the film also includes (deep breath), werewolves, witches, demons, serial killers, gangs pushing “cheese”, government conspiracies, and portals to hell. What’s more, all of them are treated as completely natural in the film. The “ghosts” are obviously pretty common, but no one’s really afraid of werewolves, witches, or anything much else really. To Slice’s credit, this actually helps us as the audience to buy into the idea that these supernatural beings are so commonplace, because the entire cast just shrugs most of it off, so you can’t help but do the same.
The film is a slice of weird with extra strange on top, and a pile of toppings that are all a tad undercooked. Between Ghost Town, police hunting a renegade werewolf (Chance), pizza delivery drivers teaming up with a reporter (Rae Gray) to uncover the mystery as to why their establishment is being targeted, a corrupt mayor (Parnell) and a conspiracy involving witches, Slice has so much going on that not only does it become difficult to follow, but none of the above is fully fleshed out to a point where the audience gives a crap. Each and every “twist” is thrown at us with a quick couple of lines before we are quickly asked to look the other way so we don’t spend enough time realizing that this story is filled with enough plot holes to sink New York City. Which is really too bad, because Slice has a semblance of a solid message involving the government scapegoating minorities, but with so little time spent on any one idea, Slice goes from what could be a tasty meal to a paper thin, week old pizza as stiff as my face watching this movie.
Speaking of pizza, as I’ve mentioned, Slice is so cheesy, it’s beyond cheese. Slice is the kind of stupid humor that your eight-year-old laughs at, like fart noises or talking dogs, while you just sit there and roll your eyes and give him a pat on the head, as if to say, someday you’ll have a real sense of humor. Perhaps the reason the cast feels so uninspired is because THEY ARE, and I don’t blame them with bad joke after joke, each more increasingly difficult to sell than the last. I’d hate werewolves too if one accidentally ran my dad over with a car, but if that’s the most memorable “joke” the film has, well, you can probably understand why Slice is severely lacking in the laughs department.
Sorry, horror fans, but the “scares” are basically non-existent as well. Vesely does little to nothing to build tension in Slice. Most scenes feel as if Vesely is asleep at the wheel and we’re trapped in the backseat, forced to watch this sloppy mess play out in front of us. To be fair, I do get the sense that Vesely tried to create a fun, spooky atmosphere considering all of the fog and neat retro soundtrack, but it just isn’t enough to keep the audience engaged, and there is far too much emphasis on the “fun” without actually being fun that I found myself wishing Vesely had indulged more in atmosphere and less on trying to be as goofy as possible.
For how over the top I’ve played the film up to be, you’ll be disappointed to learn that the few deaths in this film are incredibly lame and lazy. This is a movie populated by all kinds of creatures, with absolutely zero sense of taking itself seriously, and yet the most exciting thing we ever get to see is a simple throat slash. Seeing as how that happens in the first few minutes, it doesn’t leave much to look forward to. Give me exploding heads. Werewolves ripping limbs off with an ungodly amount of blood spray. Hell, even pizza demons! You’ll find yourself just begging for Slice to give you something interesting, but it never happens. As for the effects themselves? Well, let’s just say that Chance may be the worst looking werewolf I’ve ever seen. And don’t even get me started on the cartoonish CGI.
All in all, Slice is like a strange dream from the night before which begins to fade the moment you wake up, eventually leaving you to wonder if you ever really dreamt it at all. A24 likely hopes we will all forget Slice sooner rather than later. You’d be better off spending your money on a cheap Domino’s pizza and watching cat videos on YouTube.
By Matt Konopka