Horror is my favorite genre of movie and sloths are my second favorite animal (goats are the first, if you were wondering), so when I found out about the slasher comedy Slotherhouse, I knew I had to see it. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the film’s theatrical release was limited to a single night in New Jersey and that my local theatre would not be showing it at all. Nevertheless, I did not let this discourage me and I bought a ticket for the closest theatre I could find. I knew the chances of the movie being awful were high, but that was a risk I was willing to take. While I can’t confidently say that Slotherhouse was objectively GOOD, I definitely do not regret spending money to see this utterly bizarre film. Here are my thoughts on Matthew Goodhue’s Slotherhouse.
This is not a movie that you watch for the plot. On the contrary, this is the type of movie that you turn on at midnight when you’re half conscious but still don’t want to sleep, or that you play in the background at a slumber party where everyone is going to talk over the film anyway. You only need to know the general story: a college girl named Emily (Lisa Ambalavnar) dreams of becoming the president of her sorority during her senior year but knows she’ll never beat the current president, queen bee Brianna (Sydney Craven). However, she meets an exotic animal dealer who offers to sell her a sloth that he recently poached from Panama, and her desire to be popular overrides her moral compass and she eventually agrees. She names the sloth Alpha, and Alpha becomes both the sorority house’s mascot and the face of Emily’s presidential campaign. Unfortunately, the seemingly helpless ball of cuddly adorableness actually has homicidal tendencies and human-level intelligence. It’s never explained exactly why Alpha is smart enough to use a computer, make an Instagram account, steal cell phones, drive a car, hold grudges, and plot murders, but it’s best to not ask any questions. There is no real logic to anything the sloth does, so don’t expect any; just accept the ridiculousness and enjoy the ride.
One might expect bottom-shelf acting for such an unserious film, but the cast’s performance actually isn’t terrible. It is extremely easy to do a poor job playing a snotty rich girl by leaning too heavily into a stereotypical stock character, but I didn’t get that cringey feeling from any of these actresses. They gave more of a Legally Blonde vibe than the bunch-of-lower-than-D-list-actors vibe that I expected. While the main characters don’t particularly have a lot of depth, they do have clear enough personalities that make the viewer either root for their demise or hope they end up as a Final Girl. (Speaking of which, without revealing any specifics, there is more than one singular Final Girl in Slotherhouse. I personally liked this a lot, even though it goes against the typical slasher formula. Although, I’m also the type of person who loves a happy ending so I may be in the minority with this opinion.) There certainly weren’t any Oscar-worthy performances, but nobody stood out as especially bad, unlike in The Meg 2: The Trench.
I would not call the kills one of this movie’s strong points, which is very disappointing for a slasher film. The death scenes vary greatly, from a meaningless fast-paced montage to a drawn-out monologue. They occur almost entirely off-screen due to the PG-13 rating, and while we do see quite a few bodies, there’s not much blood besides what’s left behind on Alpha’s claws. The kills are far more humorous than they are scary; even the most shocking ones are far more like jump laughs than jump scares. Every kill is utterly absurd and could not be accomplished by a real sloth, which brings me back to my point that if you think about anything in this movie too hard, you won’t enjoy it.
I found Slotherhouse to be thoroughly entertaining, although not at all surprising. It does nothing to go beyond its ridiculous premise: it’s a sloth slaughtering sorority girls. That’s literally it. The film’s humor lies in just how insane it is, not in any of the actual jokes made in the film. For example, the line that provides the film’s title is badly timed to the point that it completely loses its effect and is arguably the most cringe-worthy moment in the entire movie. I almost would have preferred that they cut that pun out of the dialogue entirely and just left it in the title alone. I also want to make sure to mention the fact that neither CGI nor footage of a real sloth was ever used at any point in Slotherhouse; Alpha is portrayed by a straight-up stuffed animal from start to finish. I found this to be one of the funniest and most bizarre aspects of the film. I think it’s super amusing that they used part of their $20 million budget to write and produce a theme song for Alpha to use in the end credits, but cut corners when it came to the star of the movie. Some may call this choice lazy or even negligent, but I thought it was hilarious simply because it adds to the overall ridiculousness of the production. Clearly no animals were harmed because no animals were involved! I really hope this movie finds its way onto a streaming service because I believe it has the potential to become a cult classic, or at the very least to entertain a whole lot more people than it did with its extremely brief theatrical release.