Slayers – directed by K. Asher Levin and written by Zack Imbrogno and K. Asher Levin – follows a team of social media influencers The Stream Team – which consists of Flynn (Kara Hayward), Jack (Jack Donnelly), Liz (Lydia Hearst), and Jules (Abigail Breslin) as they accept an invitation to the home of a mysterious billionaire who claims to want to save the world, but not everything is as it seems.
Slayers has its moments, but overall, the film is not funny or scary enough to keep you fully entertained throughout the runtime. But there are successful elements of Slayers that make it an entertaining, even though not great, experience.
CAPTURING DIFFERENT ERAS OF POPULAR CULTURE
Slayers might be heavy handed in its satire of the rich, but the film has fun with capturing the YouTube influencer culture and aesthetic. The introductions to the stream team set up the characters well, while showing different aspects of this specific social media world.
In flashbacks, we see glimpses into Elliot Jones’ (Thomas Jane) pre-vampire slayer life and the aesthetic in these moments perfectly captures 2000s era television shows. Thomas Jane does great portraying the different versions of his character, as he falls further into the world of vampires and slayers.
Most of the comedy seems to come from the idea of social media influencers and how this ties into capitalism – and even the ones who seem to be fighting for good are in someone’s pocket. Slayers does well mixing various elements of its comedy – especially the jokes highlighting the generation gaps between the rugged vampire slayer and the team of social media influencers, who all highlight a unique part of Gen Z and internet culture.
HEAVY HANDED THEMES
Slayers is too heavy-handed at times, especially with its central metaphor of the rich as vampires bleeding the world dry. It’s enjoyable seeing this concept playing off the influencer characters and how some are greedier than others. And Lydia Herst’s performance as the most materialistic member of the Stream Team stands out. She plays Liz with an undercurrent of menace throughout the film that always feels relevant and plays off the mean girl trope while being a unique character with a deadly smile.
At times throughout Slayers, the ideas of capitalism come through as examples of Culture Jamming. These moments work particularly well and feel unique to the film. This idea of culture jamming comes in the form of the film using existing footage that has been edited to create a unique viewpoint.
In addition to this, Slayers also made some interesting and fitting choices with pre-existing footage. There is a sequence that uses footage from the 1972 film Horror Express that works especially well. Some of these mixed media elements did not work as well, such as the use of a video game-style scorecard of humans vs vampires.
But overall, the thematic ideas behind the film were too front-and-center and most comedies relied on modern teenagers being modern teenagers. Slayers felt like it didn’t trust the audience to know these rich vampires are evil without connecting them to big corporations in our real world–such as a comment about wanting to own all the entertainment in the world to control the conversation.
This doesn’t work well as a joke because it isn’t exaggerated enough from real life. The comedy in Slayers would have worked better if it went further past our real world into ridiculous extremes.
HORROR ELEMENTS AND KILL SCENES
Slayers is a horror comedy and a few of the horror scenes work well and blend the gore directly with the comedy – such as the weirdest date I’ve ever seen depicted on screen. This moment had wonderful tension that playfully mixed with the more comedic aspects of the scene. But overall, Slayers does not lean into its horror often enough and the kill scenes often run together, featuring the same basic structure within each moment.
But there are a few moments where the horror works well and blends in with the cinematography of the social media influencer aesthetic. Flynn – played by Kara Hayward – is the heart of Slayers and she does a great job with her gamer character. It’s important in a film about characters that come from a usually vapid world to include someone we can root for amidst it all. Flynn feels distant from the fame-hungry world.
Even though the character is a popular streamer, this is not her entire character and she perfectly fits that badass horror trope. And the moments where she is shown fighting and working to save her friends and family are some of the best moments in the film.
Slayers is an entertaining enough horror comedy with some standout performances – especially Kara Hayward and Lydia Hearst – but the film’s satire and themes are too in-your-face and Slayers loses some of its charm.