BY: DAKOTA DAHL
Starring Addie Weyrich, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Rasheda Crockett, Patrick Foy and Lloyd Kaufman
Written and Directed by Brandon Bassham
Ah, Troma, you old rascal. Not only is Troma the world’s longest-running independent movie studio, but they have a personal place in my heart, since my review of Troma’s Victor Goodview is literally the first article I ever reviewed for our sweet, little blog. Of course, Troma also occupies a huge space in the cult film scene, with classics like The Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. enduring in the hearts of millions even to this day. It’s this lasting fondness that always makes it a joy to review a Troma film, and SLASHENING: THE FINAL BEGINNING is no exception. It’s crass, offensive, funny, and gory, so pretty much everything you’d expect, but not in a simple copy/paste kind of way. It’s a fairly accurate and scathing takedown of modern idiosyncrasies that only sometimes trips its way into directionless contrarianism.
As it turns out, SLASHENING: THE FINAL BEGINNING is actually a sequel to 2015’s The Slashening, but if you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, neither have I. Lucky for us both, the characters at the beginning exposition the shit out of the audience and explain the plot of the first movie. Basically, a bunch of young women at a sleepover start getting murdered, on top of wave after wave of pizza delivery people. It ends with some final girls, some betrayal, and a lifetime commitment to a mental institution. Fast forward to the incredibly sucky now-times, where a house warming party is being held in the murder house from the first film.
The over-the-top caricatures of modern people waver uncontrollably between insightful commentary and bullshit windmill tilting-at-ery. For every time writer/director Brandon Bassham pokes fun at a wine snob droning on endlessly, or someone pretending to derive pleasure from “docking,” there’s a downward-punching joke about people establishing consent while drunkenly hooking up. In what world is taking steps to avoid sexual assault a bad thing? Luckily, the reactionary takes are fewer than the insightful ones, so the whole story ends up being more funny than cringe-y. Anyways, the house-warming guests all get killed by someone wearing the killer’s mask from the first film.
Speaking of the first film, we smash cut to a support group for people with trauma, run by Pat (Patrick Foy) who is appropriately mangled. He’s burned, missing an eye, and proudly castrated, and he leads the group in accepting the things done to them. The group adds to the films weirdness, with a performative ally feminist claiming to simply be empathetic to other women’s trauma, a “victim” of various serial killers who just happens to kill everyone she doesn’t like, unrepentant sociopaths who are court-mandated to be there after running over an old man, a stoner who DMT’d himself into doubting all reality, and a girl who walked in on her father’s multiple suicide attempts rounding out the troop. This latter member, Madison Santangeli (Addie Weyrich) has a connection to the first film: it turns out that her suicidal father was the pizza parlor owner who sent the aforementioned wave after wave of delivery drivers to their deaths.
Enjoying this film (as with most Troma fare) requires an assumption of good faith on the part of the makers from the audience, where you have to assume that all of the criticisms of shallow, superficial “millennials” aren’t coming from a place of anti-woke, right-wing crusading, but instead are aimed at all extremists and hypocrites, regardless political affiliation. After all, SLASHENING: THE FINAL BEGINNING, is primarily a critique of Brooklyn’s so-called elite, a notorious wave of self-assured gentrifiers. The film is full of instances of men talking over women at art shows and white people threatening Black business owners with negative Yelp reviews. These are real problems with self-described “liberals” in our modern world, and using hyperbole to shine a light on it is a worthwhile endeavor. If you can do all that while having a massive body count, all the better.
SLASHENING: THE FINAL BEGINNING has, in inimitable Troma fashion, laughs and guts galore, and if it sounds like your cup of tea, and frankly, if you’re on this site, we know it is, you should definitely check out its digital premier on Laemmle Virtual Cinema on April 30. But wait, there’s more! The premier will open with a Q&A at 7pm PST/10 pm EST with cast, crew and producer Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment. For those of us who are going a little stir crazy while in quarantine, this kind of virtual event is a good way to stave off cabin fever while maintaining an appropriate social distance.
SLASHENING: THE FINAL BEGINNING will have its digital premier on Laemmle Virtual Cinema on April 30.