Night of the Slasher
2016. Directed by Shant Hamassian.
Night of the Slasher is a wickedly sharp homage to the unstoppable killer genre that dominated 80’s American Cinema. Using a one shot approach and ten minutes and change, Night of the Slasher manages to outshine other masked killer clones with excellent craftsmanship, a surprisingly emotional lead performance, and a script that not only hones in on the essence of stalker horror, but is also a brilliant revision of the Final Girl concept.
Teenager Jenelle begins her night by dancing, half naked and alone in her house. She then embarks on a metaphysical checklist, engaging in various risque activities, each of which is an ingredient used to summon a relentless manifestation of slasher flick villainy. Using her suicidal bravado and quick thinking, Jenelle confronts her tormentor in a desperate showdown, hoping to break free from a prison of cliches.
Eli Tahan’s jittery cinematography captures the entire film with the appearance of one continuous take, abandoning traditionally slow transitions by rapidly moving the camera between different vantage points, deftly following Jenelle’s panic stricken point of view while perfectly harmonizing with Simon Michel’s synth infused score. Using what is absent from the viewer’s perspective, Hamassian’s editing gives the killer an ethereal quality as he seems to vanish into thin air and then reappears just as suddenly, charmingly emulating the quasi-mystical attributes of prolific 80’s boogeymen. Hamassian’s script has virtually no dialogue, relying on the outstanding body work of Lily Berlina as Jenelle and Adam Lesar as The Killer.
While Berlina’s physical work is outstanding, her approach to the subject matter is remarkably original. Her Jenelle has been brutally victimized, but she has no interest in being a victim. She is adroitly aware of her predicament, and rather than surrender to hopeless platitudes or sexual exploitation, she grabs the horror conventions by the throat and viciously fights back, furiously taking control of a destiny that has classically been a foregone conclusion.
The entirety of Night of the Slasher could play as the intro to a longer film, except Hamassian has a more devious goal, completely obliterating tradition and giving the viewer just enough to whet their appetite. The conclusion comes abruptly, and there’s a telling look by one of the characters that is shockingly resonant, a perfect summation for an ultimate love letter to the genre, featuring an outstanding choice for The Killer’s mask that will have Carpenter fans cheering in their seats.
Available now on Vimeo, Night of the Slasher is now eligible for an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Film. By Using every possible second to maintain a tense atmosphere, portraying its female protagonist as aggressively competent, and through the use of a wonderfully original approach, Night of the Slasher is essential viewing for horror fans. Even if horror is not your preferred genre, fans of creative approaches to tired subject matter will find something to marvel at in this bravely self aware renegade.