Up until SLINK, Jared Masters had been focusing on retro sex comedies reminiscent of sexploitation out of the 60’s and 70’s. With his first horror film, he went a much darker direction, while still maintaining a core of exploitation. In other words, SLINK uses every opportunity for nudity, and often sacrifices the violence that the story really calls for. A couple of sisters travel to a small town at the request of their father to be the first to pick through their recently deceased uncle’s possessions. The town may not have much of anything, but it does have a couple that runs both a tanning salon and a high-end purse shop. Unfortunately, as revealed very early on, the man in charge of the tanning salon has a bad habit of watching girls in the tanning beds, and when it’s the correct specimen, murdering them so his wife can make purses from their skin. So really what we have here is another Ed Gein inspired premise, only with tanning and uppity boutiques.
The story is only a mild deviation from the familiar ‘small town nutjobs’ outline, and the dialogue at most points is highly derivative. But SLINK never really gives the impression that it is trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather providing a simple premise for the classic trash horror feel. The issue is that the lack of graphic violence and gore counteracts that approach. Fans of trash horror are for the most part used to about a 50-50 approach, roughly equal parts sex and violence. When the horror falls flat, you lose a huge chunk of the entertainment value.
So rather than a hyper-violent story with blood, sex, and violence, the classic approach to trash horror, we instead have a tame horror that focuses purely on the sleaze. And tends to feel a bit silly. Now tanning is not a habit that I would ever consider partaking in, so I may be entirely wrong, but does anyone really strip naked to lie on a tanning bed? If so, then I guess I’ve learned something. Otherwise, that little detail seems like a stretch in order to satisfy the nudity quota.
As I’ve probably made clear at this point, there are virtually no effects to speak of, and the very minor makeup effects involved are not only mild, but also pretty unconvincing. So sadly, for a fan of gore, where I wanted to see some good blood and guts, or an appropriately visceral skinning, SLINK fell flat. The acting was equally rough, but as anyone who frequents this site knows, poor acting rarely bothers me. Cult horror has never been about spectacular performances after all. And the acting in this film falls just short of the average quality of indie horror performances. The lead characters are forgettable, which takes away from the tension that should exist when they are put in perilous situations. And frankly, the whole film leans on the fact that we as an audience are concerned about the lead characters. Instead, it is a predictable series of events between a set of static characters on both sides. The bad guys have no depth, and the leading ladies are mundane.
All in all, SLINK is a very rough, but mildly enjoyable first attempt at a horror film from Masters. It offers very little in the way of originality, is quite rough on the acting, and certainly could have used some more creative script work. But the main downside is the fact that the whole project could have been redeemed with some good quality gore, but instead what we’re left with is a tame exploitative thriller. However, as I mentioned at the very beginning of this review, this is only Masters’ first horror film, and hopefully a transition period. If the balance can be found, the young director certainly has potential for the trash horror niche.