Over the last decade, horror hasn’t just seen a boon on the big screen. With the proliferation of speciality channels and streaming platforms, horror fans have enjoyed a selection of horrror TV series not previously available. American Horror Story. The Walking Dead. Bates Motel. In the last few months alone, Netflix has released the very good Chambers and the iffy Black Summer. Now Netflix surprised horror fans with a third season of Canadian horror anthology series, Slasher. Season 3, entitled Solstice, promises more of the same 80’s ‘blood and guts’, but can it improve on its disappointing second season.
One year ago, a masked killer, The Druid, brutally murdered Kit Jennings outside his apartment complex. As he cried for help, Kit’s neighbours turned a blind eye. Now the Summer Solstice has returned and so has The Druid. This time he’s stalking the same neighbours who let Kit Jennings suffer a horrific death just outside their doors. Is someone seeking vengeance for Kit? In a building where everyone seems to have a secret,
Slasher Too Dumb To Take Any Social Commentary Seriously
Somewhere amidst the carnage, Slasher thinks its has something poignant to say about our current divisive times. Maybe the social commentary was intentional. Perhaps it’s just incidental. Nevertheless, Slasher Solstice is just too dumb to take any subtext seriously. It doesn’t help that Season 3 takes a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to its social issues. Everything from viral shaming to Islamaphobia to homophobia is checked off. At times, Slasher Solstice reads like a high school student’s essay on social justice.
…Season 3 takes a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to its social issues.
The problem is that Slasher Solstice juggles too many ideas that must ultimately take a back seat to the main attraction – over-the-top violence. As a result, none of the ‘big’ ideas are given any serious platform. Instead it’s identity politics as exploitation. When a white supremacist bonds with his gay neighbour and ‘turns over a new leaf’, it’s an unearned moment that’s more laughable than important. Younger audiences may connect with one or more of the ideas. But it’s too formulaic and scattershot to be truly effective.
Slasher Solstice Delivers On The Slashing
Where Slasher Solstice gets things right is with its rapid pacing and wildly explicit gore. Like its previous seasons, Slasher Solstice crams in buckets of blood and severed limbs. And yes, there actually are a lot of severed limbs. No fewer than three characters bite the bullet before the first episode ends. A little computer trickery betrays some of the kills. But by and large, Slasher Solstice lives up to its title with some brutally fun deaths that revel in the best of 80’s-inspired horror. And unlike the repellent Season 2, Solstice doesn’t feel quite as unnecessarily cruel. Of course, this may be a function of the generally unlikable gallery of characters.
…at just six episodes, Solstice doesn’t feel like its exhausting its red herrings too much.
Another improvement here over Season 2 is the much better use of the slasher formula. The show’s multiple timelines mixed with the ‘past sin’ slasher trope produces enough intrigue and fun twists. Astute horror fans will probably have The Druid’s identity figured out by the penultimate episode. But at just six episodes, Solstice doesn’t feel like its exhausting its red herrings too much.
Disposable Cast Stalked By An Unremarkable Killer
Kudos to Slasher Solstice for presenting audiences with a diverse cast of characters. Like American Horror Story, several cast members have popped up across all three seasons. Too bad the cast is pretty much cannon fodder for its masked killer. Don’t blink because characters come and go pretty quickly. Given how utterly annoying most of these characters are, you’re not likely to miss them. Only Baraka Rahmani, as the obvious ‘Final Girl’ Saadia, stands out. Likeable and resourceful, Rahmani’s ‘Saadia’ is a worthy ‘Scream Queen’. Hopefully, we’ll see her in more projects down the road.
Pardon the pun, but slasher films ‘live and die’ with their villain. And the genre has produced many memorable B-level baddies slashing alongside the Jason’s and Freddy Krueger’s of horrror. Sadly, The Druid is a pretty unremarkable villain. Though The Druid’s backstory will likely connect well with younger audiences, its appearance borders on silly. With a plain hooded robe and neon-lit mask, The Druid fails to inspire much in the way of fear. Clearly, Slasher Solstice invested most of its creative energy into its grisly death scenes.
Slasher Solstice An Improvement Over Second Season
Anthology series are bound to see peaks and valleys in terms of quality. Slasher’s second season, Guily Party, was a mean-spirited affair not worth its six episodes. In contrast, Solstice makes for a bloody fun, albeit dumb, binge for horror fans. Though it lacks the thoughtfulness of The Haunting of Hill House or Chambers, Slasher doesn’t pretend to be more than just a fun update of ‘80’s horror. And with only six episodes, it never overstays its welcome.