What’s in a name? Well, the bard said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and he was right. However, when your prestigious boarding school is named Slaughterhouse, maybe you should think about a bit of rebranding.
When Don Wallace (Finn Cole) is accepted to the exclusive Slaughterhouse School he isn’t exactly overjoyed. However, his mum has her heart set on it and has convinced Don that it would make his deceased father proud. So, despite his reservations, Don agrees to give the school a try.
Upon arriving at Slaughterhouse, Don realizes this is nothing like where he’s been going to school. He meets his roommate Willoughby Blake (Asa Butterfield), a strange student whose roommate died at the end of the last term. Not the most auspicious of starts. Then it’s time for the first assembly.
Don gets to see the British class system is on steroids in this boarding school, which is seen as the breeding ground for tomorrow’s leaders. The senior students, if from the right background and able to handle the hazing and tests, may be elevated to “gods”. These are the house heads and school leaders. The newest Slaughterhouse student immediately runs afoul of Clegg (Tom Rhys Harries) when Don sets his sights on Clemsie Lawrence (Hermione Corfield).
As the students prepare for the new term, the Headmaster, called “The Bat” (Michael Sheen) warns them that the woods and lake outside the school are strictly off-limits this term, but gives no reason for this. Later, one of the teachers, Meredith Houseman (Simon Pegg), is out for a jog in the woods. He runs into the reason the area is not out of bounds for students; Terrafrack, a fracking corporation has bought the rights to mine the land. Though the Headmaster assures everyone that there is nothing to worry about from this, the lake catching fire and a giant sinkhole opening in the woods seem to say otherwise.
Don and Willoughby come across the sinkhole. They’re chased off by the thuggish employees of the fracking company and run off blindly through the woods. There they encounter Woody (Nick Frost) and his band of environmental activists/hippy potheads. Woody is an alumnus of Slaughterhouse and hates the institution. He and his band are camped to protest and possibly sabotage the fracking operation.
The boys get caught in the woods and are brought to the Headmaster, who decides to cancel their school leave that weekend. At first Don is crushed, but then he learns that some other students are staying as well, including Clemsie. So now he sees his chance to get closer to the woman of his dreams.
Unfortunately for all of them, the fracking operation has done more than just cause a few geological problems. The legend of Slaughterhouse was that the school’s founder defeated a dragon and built the school on top of its buried lair. Well, now something is stirring under the grounds. Monstrous creatures begin emerging from the sinkhole and kill and eat the fracking crew. Now those creatures are on the hunt for more victims and the mismatched bunch of students and teachers still at Slaughterhouse during the break appear to be next on the menu. Will any of them escape? More importantly, will Don have any luck with Clemsie?
Slaughterhouse Rulez is a horror/comedy and is the first film from Stolen Picture, a film and TV production company formed by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film is fast-paced and filled with the kind of dark horror humor that Pegg and Frost became known for with Shaun of the Dead. Finn Cole does a great job being the ‘everyman’ student thrust into the world of the privileged elites and forced to deal with snobbery.
There are also several side plots going on that add depth to the characters, especially Pegg’s Mr. Houseman. Seems he’d had a relationship with a teacher at the school named Audrey (Margot Robbie) who is now doing charity medical work somewhere in Africa. His attempts to video chat with her throughout the film are both cringe-worthy and endearing.
Slaughterhouse Rulez isn’t as original as Shaun of the Dead, but it manages to have the same kind of comedic energy that makes the gore easier to swallow. It also has an excellent cast with noteworthy performances by Hermione Corfield, Simon Pegg, and Michael Sheen. So if you’re in the mood for a monster movie with a good bit of dark British humor, check out Slaughterhouse Rulez, and remember, they say fracking is perfectly safe, but I’ve yet to see a film where it doesn’t lead to trouble.