There’s been some form of a horror renaissance in television. The rampant popularity of shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story is most likely responsible for the recent onslaught of great horror shows like the now-defunct Hannibal and lesser shows like MTV’s Scream. Chiller has caught on, and is now producing their first ever original series, horror or otherwise, Slasher.
Slasher stars Katie McGrath (victim of the most gruesome death scene in Jurassic World) as Sarah Bennet, the sole survivor of her family’s horrific murder, now moving back to her old home in order to find some form of closure. Her husband Dylan, played by Brandon Jay McLaren, accompanies her back to the quiet town that never quite healed from its wounds. Unbeknownst to them, however, a possible copycat murderer with a mysterious connection to Sarah is on the loose, while the original killer is still safely behind bars.
The show obviously borrows many elements from previous serial-killer centric programs, but fortunately decides to focus on an adult cast, instead of a teenage high school slasher story. Slasher’s presentation is also decidedly classic, with a Halloween inspired outfit for the titular killer that wouldn’t be out of place in the 80s. The main characters are also mostly connected in a deliciously cheesy soap-opera style drama regarding Sarah’s deceased family. While the premiere only consisted of the first couple of episodes, it seems as if viewers will have a blast guessing the killer’s identity.
Slasher’s first episode does a great job at rapidly introducing decently developed characters and situations, while not feeling like an educational pilot meant only to sell the show. It also introduces an interesting character dynamic between Sarah and man who murdered her family, as she visits him in order to gain some insight on the events that shaped her life. There’s an echo of the Clarice Starling/Hannibal Lecter moments in these scenes, though Bennet is only a civilian caught in between other people’s conflicts.
Secondary characters aren’t just victims waiting to happen, however. Bennet’s friends and neighbors are established in such a way that you actually care when they are confronted with danger. Characters like Robin and Justin, who could have been just an obligatory and uninteresting gay couple actually discuss how their relationship is viewed in their small community, and it impacts the story. Even unsavory old ladies are given some form of backstory, making sure that no one feels like a cardboard cutout.
The second episode begins to deal a bit more with the concept of loss, and how the killer is inspired by punishments for the seven deadly sins. As the plot thickens, the show begins to find its strength, although many of the whodunit elements in Slasher have been done to death in the past (no pun intended). As the body count rises, there’s also the matter of how many of these characters will be left standing for the second season, if there will be one.
So far, the killer’s appearances have been brief and far apart, which is a double-edged sword for the show. While keeping him away from the action onscreen makes us view him as some kind of omniscient monster hell bent on some sort of murderous mission, it also removes a lot of the slasher movie charm that the series boasts in its title. This could, and probably will, change in future episodes, but for now Slasher needs something more to keep the audience interested.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the third episode, as I wouldn’t mind tuning in once a week to slowly uncover the mystery behind Slasher. Katie McGrath is great as a protagonist and possible final girl, and the villain is menacing enough to sometimes even be scary. There’s still a lot of ground to cover, but so far this is another great addition to the horror television show roster. Chiller’s first outing with original programming is an unexpected success, and premieres on March 4th, at 9/8c.