Review: SLICE Is Fifties Camp With Modern Sensibilities And A Surefire Cult Classic
Slice was announced a while back and almost immediately, interest grew. We had two of the most creative forces in their genre, video director Austin Vesely and acid rap choir boy Chance Bennet (more famously known as Chance the Rapper) were working on a horror movie.
Then, radio silence. As time marched forward, snippets of information were divvied out. A teaser trailer here, a cast announcement there. The plot synopsis. Werwolf delivery boys in a literal ghost town and witches are involved somehow? This sounded like a cartoon, not a movie made in 2018, and we mean that in the best way possible. Finally, A24 picked up distribution on it and marketing started to grace the internet. Bright, bloody, colorful parody mocking famous pizza companies. Then we get word: yo. This is dropping tomorrow.
So Slice officially hit VOD after a one night only offering in theaters and it is something that should be seen.
Taking place in the fictional city of Kingfisher, life is similar to ours, save for the fact that the supernatural exist in cohabitation with the humans of Kingfisher. Ghosts, werewolves, demons and more share the city limits with the citizens, although Mayor Tracy has sanctioned all of the ghosts to their own neighborhood, aptly named Ghost Town. When a pizza boy is murdered inside the limits of Ghost Town, it’s up to a city reporter and werewolf delivery boy to uncover a conspiracy with infernal roots.
Slice is a beautiful film. It’s clear to see that Vesely cut his teeth in the music video industry because he thrives on creating “perfect shots.” His visual flair, using lighting and colors to a great advantage, makes Slice easy to watch because you can’t help but love all of the set pieces. Kingfisher will instantly become a favorite locale for horror fans as Vesely forges a wonderful world. In a setting that feels so inherently retro, from the old school newspaper headquarters to the grandeur city hall, it blends and melds perfectly with the bright bombastic stylings of the nineties nostalgia that’s riding an all time high right now. While you may see a lot of comparisons to eighties throwback trend that is happening right now, Slice is very much not that. Instead, it’s a amalgamation of two eras that realistically shouldn’t blend but because of some perfect alchemy, Vesely is able to concoct a recipe for fifties era camp with Nick Splat 90’s obsession and it’s a fun, fun place to be.
Zazie Beetz and Rae Grey are the standout stars of the film, although it’s littered with great performances and fun cameos through. Chris Parnell plays the money hungry mayor with an obnoxious flair, Paul Scheer bumbles along joyfully as the Pizza Base owner, and Hannibal Burress and Y’Lan Noel have brief roles that are both a lot of fun, as is the appearance from writer-director Austin Vesely as slain pizza boy turned ghost Sean Hammerschmidt. For a rapper turned actor, Chance does a lot with the little screen time he is given. He plays a wise and mellow delivery boy who plays a nearly pacifistic werewolf and his lines are delivered just as his verses are, effortlessly cool and with a humble bravado. Rae Grey dominates most screen time as intrepid news reporter Sadie Sheridan and she’s a blast to watch, leaning into the same investigative journalism bravery that makes the also fictional Lois Lane such an eternal figure, Grey is in charge of every scene she’s in. She’s the perfect compliment to Zazie Beetz, who plays the opposite side of ass-kicking, getting her hands dirty on the streets, and she’s believable in every single frame. Her face, demeanor, posture and poise just scream “badass.” Beetz’s Astrid should long be remembered as one of the coolest female characters to show up in a genre flick. Ever.
Not everything is a surefire hit. While the comedy is definitely going to fall flat for any pre-millenial, it wears a stoner influence on its sleeve and is sure to induce chuckles from anyone who is entranced in the Soundcloud rap movement. The horror element exists and it’s a shame it doesn’t exist more. The world building of Kingfisher is awesome but never dives deep enough to fully flesh out the possibilities. For a movie that positions itself as a film about demons, witches and werewolves, we spend most of the film understanding the motivations of these characters before seeing any real action. It’s a damn shame because when Chance finally does have his transformation in a fight scene against a coven of witches, it’s a blast. Again, the cast doesn’t get explored as much as you may want either. Although Beetz and Grey are both excellent, Chance isn’t shined on enough and some of the parts, such as Stranger Things Joe Keery as a photographer, feel weirdly diminished.
Slice won’t be for everyone. Many will cry fowl for not leaning enough into horror or comedy but they’re missing the point. Slice is a callback to the days of “I Was A Teenage” something, an era that we thought had passed but Vesely and A24 were able to rebuild. It’s a midnight movie for the instagram generation and it’s cheesy as hell, but isn’t all the best pizza?