Slices of Life (2011)
Directed by Anthony G. Sumner
As noted a few weeks back, I questioned whether or not the horror anthology was seeing a resurgence. One of those films that showed evidence of this was Anthony Sumner's 3 Slices of Life which from the cover art and the trailer made it seem like the "IT" film to see in the indie horror circuit. Would it replace Trick R Treat as the reigning horror anthology in the last 5 years?
Now having watched the film, I can safely say Trick R Treat has nothing to worry about. Slices of Life has a solid anthology structure working in an amnesia girl working at a motel bridge while throwing in the titular slices of life. Those being Work Life, Home Life and Sex Life. Clearly if this movie was going to kick ass, 2 of the 3 stories would have to be awesome.
And that's where we fall short. Only 1 story, Sex Life drew my attention to stellar as the other two were mediocre at best. Sometimes that's how it goes. Slices of Life shows flashes of creativity covered in DIY blood and CGI cleverness, but gets ultimately doomed by the predictable stories and inconsistent pacing. I really wanted to like this flick but the more I thought I'd see an edgy piece of indie wickedness, the more it delivered old Twilight Zone-ish plots and old Tales from the Crypt goofiness.
Much of it reminded me of a Drew Daywalt short but without his ingenuity. The premise clearly peaked my expectations to high but somehow the story never followed through. In a nutshell, your slices are a zombie short, a ghost story and a creature feature. The creature feature is the only one that made the inner gorehound in me squeal with delight.
So let's explore all 3 in a breakdown.
Sexual Parasites, Disembowelment, Zombies, Serial Killers, Demon Children, Violent Vixens, Rabid Office Workers and Angry Embryos all spring to life from the flesh covered sketch books featured in Anthony G. Sumner's (Gallery of Fear) SLICES OF LIFE.
Mira (Kaylee Williams) awakens in front of a seedy roadside motel with amnesia. She searches for clues to her identity in the pages of three bound sketchbooks, in which each book represents a different aspect of everyday life, maybe her life.
WORK LIFE A lowly clerk at a nano technology firm unleashes a deadly virus at the office headquarters, giving new meaning to the term corporate zombie.
HOME LIFE As local girls begin to disappear, a young pregnant woman is haunted by visions of evil demonic children hell bent on stealing her unborn fetus.
SEX LIFE A young brother and sister on the run from a sexually abusive home life, take refuge in a countryside Victorian manor- only to discover the monsters hidden in this house have been looking for a new home. Convinced that the characters from these books are roaming around the motel, Mira's reality begins to crumble. Are these visions real or is she going insane? Desperate, Mira turns to the motel caretakers (Marv Blauvelt and Helene Alter-Dyche), only to discover the true evil bound in the flesh covered books and the destiny they hold for her.
First up the glue of the anthology revolves around Mira, an amnesiac who works in a motel. With a weirdo owner lady and a handyman, she mans the front desk and reads up on the mysterious slices of life books that appear before her.
It's an interesting glue that holds your attention. The setting of a motel is a bit creepy and Kaylee Williams gives off a positive vibe. The fact that the film drops off paranormal creepiness to give you each short was a bit overboard. The best anthologies are the one's that keep yourself grounded in a "real world" focus. You know each story is gonna be oddly horrific and the balance of semi realism might have helped here. But I digress. Here's a review of each segment.
WORK LIFE: W.O.R.M.
From the plot above, it's basically Office Space meets Shaun of the Dead. The unnoticed lonely office salaryman unleashes an e-mail virus zombie apocalypse. I was hoping this would be the horror comedy portion of the anthology and at times it is. A few raunchy jokes via a sex Internet cam site seemed to be on the right track but it slowly descends into a straightforward zombie snoozefest.
If this was trying to be the comedy portion, it clearly failed on both the horror and the comedy of the segment. It's not a bad thing to copy the recent classics. Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, were a few flicks to copy from that worked the zombie comedy well. I would have love to see The Office meets Romero. We know there is going to be heavy duty fuckedupness later, getting the audience to laugh is one way to set them up.
HOME LIFE: Amber Alert
AKA the ghost story of 3 Slices of Life. If there was a segment to go all shaky cam POV this would be it. I liked the fact we followed Vonda, black pregnant woman who starts seeing evil demonic missing children. It's kinda cool to follow a black couple having a Paranormal Activity experience. But somehow this premise is boring and eventually pointless. The "scares" are weak and repetitive. CGI ghost faces, shadows and regurgitated jump scares never even made me wince.
The supposed twist didn't even register a yawn in my book. There are many things a ghost or supernatural story is suppose to do. It's suppose to be dark, devious and deadly. But there was none of that. I felt like it was a total missed opportunity to jolt the audience with some POV scariness.
SEX LIFE: Pink Snapper
Your creature feature segment is part crime grime part Teeth. If you've seen Teeth, you know what I'm talking about. As clearly as you can see yourself in the mirror you can see the twist coming a mile away but Sex Life had all the elements of a solid short. You've got a brother and sister getaway, an old man with a mysterious agenda and a kidnapping or prison victim. Throw in some superb gore and splatter and a wicked ending and it equals applause.
Deneen Melody as Susan, who escapes from the sexual advances of a creepy uncle flees with her brother where they encounter an old man who they found unconscious. Leading them to a super religious house they find a kidnap victim Elizabeth (Judith Lesser) (who's also on the cover of the DVD) and that's where the twists and turns all end in a splatterific conclusion.
Sure it's predictable and full of one dimensional characters, but it works in my opinion. The practical creature gore and effects are brilliant as is the buckets of blood that drip from the walls in the epic conclusion.
The entire film COULD and I stress could have been awesome. A horror comedy that relaxes the viewer, a ghost story that gets them edgy and a creature feature that gives you the sexual willies. But the first 2 never really got into the final story and by the end, you're not expecting much. Slices of Life is an unfired firework, ready to explode but nobody lit the fuse. Instead we're given sparklers and told "Have a good time kids!".
My expectations were super high for Slices of Life and I'm clearly disappointed that I'm waving my sparklers instead of firing off M80s. Sumner and Tinycore Pictures are talented filmmakers with an ambitious film that gets stuck on neutral. They are real indie horror filmmakers and for that I'm super proud of the work they did here.
All I ask is more bottle rockets, more firecracker belts and M80 that will blow us all away.
Gunshot to the face
Slice and dice
Smash to the face
The boobs via the mirror in the bathroom
The Pink Snapper comes to life
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The DVD has some cool stuff in it including a Sumner short called "Jitters" which I found to be Drew Daywalt-ish. Feature commentary, interviews with the ladies of Slices of Life and some VDX behind the scenes were also interesting.
There will be more horror anthologies to come and Slices of Life has some moments. It's your decision to choose whether or not you want to see all of them. I gave it 2 spinkicks as I liked the overall premise and the last segment. It's sorta a 1 1/2 spinkick or 2 to me. I'm going with the latter.
Here is the trailer.