Saturday Nightmares: Why Shredder Represents the Nadir of Slasher Flicks
It's true there are slasher movies out there worse than Shredder. No budget nonsense that challenges the least discerning viewer to finish watching it.
You know exactly what I'm talking about. The kind of movie where kills happen off screen, people wander around aimlessly and the only scare comes from knowing you pissed away free time on something so banal. They've been around since the very birth of the slasher (see 1978's Savage Water, for the earliest example I'm aware of) and are made with alarming cluelessness today (The Graveyard). We'll always have terrible slasher films, as seemingly anyone can make them AND get them distributed.
But Shredder's sins are perhaps the most egregious. Outfitted with a budget and a cast of working actors, equipped with technical prowess and filmmaking know how, this is still the best that co-writer/director Greg Huson could do. A mixture of horror and comedy that is light on one and completely devoid of the other. Shredder is so bad that I hesitated reviewing it for Dread Central because the idea of reminding readers of its existence depressed me. But you need to be told so that if you ever find yourself faced with the option of watching it, you never make the mistake of throwing away 86 minutes of your life on this utter filth.
Shredder is set at an abandoned ski lodge with a troubled past. Years ago, it was the site of a tragic death and, as a result, has been left to rot away. But when a group of teenagers arrive for a weekend of partying and snowboarding, they're stalked by a devious skier who objects to their presence and begins killing them at every turn.
Sounds like every slasher film ever, right? Wrong. This is one of those that incorrectly assumes that audiences want to see the characters killed. And we do. But only because they're among the most intolerable lot of assholes I’ve encountered in this subgenre. And while the cast has largely found solid careers since appearing in this, their abilities must've been honed later because the performances here are uniformly terrible. Writers Craig Donald Carlson and Greg Huson have to shoulder most of this blame, though, for saddling these people with terrible dialogue and reprehensible characteristics. Scenes where these dolts are just hanging out, partying or snowboarding are simply intolerable. When they’re killed it feels like they still got off easy.
As a horror movie, Shredder couldn’t fail any worse. It’s not scary; the murderer is ridiculous (particularly when he’s skiing down the slopes in pursuit of victims) and the deaths, while mildly gory, fail to deliver any payoff whatsoever. Director Huson never manages to generate suspense or scares - the sole necessity when making a film of this ilk. Instead he infuses the proceeding with endless snowboarding footage, making the temptation to fast-forward even greater.
Maybe Shredder's a comedy. Fine, but it’s not funny. It's nowhere near say, Club Dread, which was very funny comedy that also took its resident slasher very seriously. Shredder can't even be bothered to do that. This is the kind of movie where someone is stabbed in the chest only to mumble, “oh, bad karma dude…”. Ha ha ha.
Its attempts at satire are even worse. When approached by the killer, one of the teenagers says with the utmost confidence, “you can’t kill me ‘cause I’m still a virgin.” only to be stabbed through the eye. This stuff doesn't exactly turn the subgenre on its ear.
And therein lies the biggest problem with Shredder. It's made by people who have no understanding of what makes these movies work. And so nothing here does. This is so far beyond the realm of being “bad in a good way”, so please don’t take this review as any kind of endorsement to watch it. It might have a higher production value than most rank offenders, but Shredder is still an exercise in bottom of the barrel genre filmmaking. Move on to bloodier pastures. Don’t even be curious.
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