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Slaughterhouse Rulez


Stars: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Tom Rhys Harries, Max Raphael, Louis Strong, Isabella Laughland, Jane Stanness, Margot Robbie

Director: Crispian Mills

Despite their film being released very late in the year, the makers of this embarrassingly bad blend of alleged comedy and imitative monster-driven shocker have every reason to expect their movie will rate high on the list of the worst films of 2018.

Having said that, I congratulate its makers for two really cunning face-savers.

The first is that there are no opening credits except the title: so moviegoers who decide - and who could blame them? - to leave before the end, when cast and crew are credited, will never know who to blame for the mess.

And the second?

Casting Pegg (whose production company with Nick Frost produced the movie) in a key role: his unsubtle acting makes other performances seem better than they really are.

Pegg describes the plot as: 'about a private school in the UK which sells off parts of its land to a fracking company, and the fracking company then unleashes a subterranean monster that terrorises the school'.

In the event, the storyline combines would-be English public school comedy - scripted with such a lack of wit and subtlety that the resulting film makes St Trinian's movies resemble works by Bergman - along with aspirant Hammer horror, delivering more ham than scares.

The key schoolboy characters (Cole and Butterfield), the first a northern working-class lad out of his element in a public school for which his mother has paid through the nose and who falls in love with fellow pupil Corfield, and Butterfield, who works hard to little memorable effect as his school roommate - are joined by embarrassing adult actors Sheen, camping it up as the headmaster, Pegg hamming it up as a (hard-to-believe) schoolmaster and his production partner Frost as a fracker.

There are no traces of subtlety: without exception the characters are cliched and played that way, the backstory includes such witty items as a pupil who hanged himself using his school tie.

The well-created murderous monsters, released into the world by the frackers' digging which opens a sinkhole through which the killer creatures enter the real world, tend to steal the show from the luckless human performers.

Witless jokes about, among others, pupils staging a Roman orgy, and a truly pathetic visual jest involving a used condom, pepper the film, along with enough F-words to push the bounds of even a 15 certificate.

'I've made a terrible mistake,' says Pegg at one stage. I'd like to think he meant making the film - refereed by director Mills (son of Hayley) - but I doubt it.

Alan Frank

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 04 Nov 2018