It’s late in the evening up at Kellogg point, and a small group of teens are celebrating their homecoming victory with carnal delight. Just down the road from this secluded rendezvous is the [dramatic pause] Mental Institution…. Ok, Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Rockville Slayer is clearly just another slice ‘em and dice ‘em orgy of bloody beauties and bad acting. But, unlike the masses of other imitators that have shredded the genre with their twelfth rate Halloween rip-offs, The Rockville Slayer embraces the unavoidable in the genre by winking a soulless eye and nodding a severed head to the past.
The tiny town of Rockville is about to be shaken to its very foundation by a rash of seemingly random murders. Detectives Amy Rodgers (Nicole Buehrer) and Deputy Charlie Fisher (Circus-Szalewski), who himself lost his brother Tim in the initial attack, are desperate to understand why this peaceful rural town is suddenly under attack from a senseless and brutal killer. Their investigation is headed nowhere fast as suspect after suspect seem to turn up on every corner and, as each loose string is tied another wiggles free.
On the surface it would seem that The Rockville Slayer has a lot going for it, including the casting of veritable who’s who of B-Moviedom, including Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead), Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop 1,2 & 3) and Joe Estavez (Soultaker). The issue is that the film just doesn’t seem to gel. Two of the biggest contributing factors in the films breakdown are the failed twist ending and the performances of the cast, specifically the performance of Bob Farster who plays Bill Fisher, father to both Tim and Charlie. Farster is also credited, as Executive Producer on the project, which leads me to believe that his financial support outweighed his acting talent. If that is the case, then it is a true shame because the film severely suffers from his abysmal portray of the grieving father. His characterization lacks all conviction and distracts the viewer from the emotional intensity that his scenes may have provided. In the same sense it is impossible to fault one performance for the failure of a film. This brings up the second issue and I can assure you that it’s a real sticking point.
A lot of films these days have a twist ending, point the finger wherever you like for the recent rash of twists, but one fact remains certain and that is, a twist ending only succeeds if the audience accepts the logic of the change. A prevalent and consistently unsatisfactory problem with the twist ending is that it is too often employed when a filmmaker plainly does not have the forethought to complete the story in a rational and logical manner. This is the supreme failure of The Rockville Slayer. As always I refuse to address the twist ending in a review, however, I will say your average genre fan will recognize the twist before it occurs and, I suspect, like myself, they will appreciate the sheer foolishness of it when it comes to pass.
To successfully create a great horror film while still maintaining a sense of irony about the genre is a lofty ambition. One that, despite the greatest intentions ultimately remains a delicate balancing act that seldom survives the unavoidable fall. The Rockville Slayer is not a great film, however, it is not for lack of trying. The winks and nudges play off perfectly throughout the first half of the film. Things go south pretty quickly though and the final act struggles for a redemption that is all but moot. The crucial issue in a film’s success or failure, like any venture, lies on the plausibility of script in the suspended disbelief of the cinema. Ironically, in the case of The Rockville Slayer, it is the script and not the madman, which delivers the critical deathblow.