This year, we’ve had murderous movies about a diabolical dancing doll, a killer coked-up bear, and now, a slasher sloth. Has the concept of a ridiculous killing-machine finally peaked? Slotherhouse—yep, that’s the name—makes a strong case for the natural evolution of the trend.
As opposed to, say, M3gan, a horror movie with lots of humor, Slotherhouse is a straight-up comedy. Any potential horror teased by the frightened faces of the impending victims gets brutally undercut by the sheer cuteness of this sloth puppet. Slotherhouse knows what it wants to be and that for the absolute ridiculousness on offer, a sloth puppet will get more laughs than any CGI tree-dweller.
Alpha, the sloth adopted by a clueless sorority girl who hopes to piggyback on its popularity to become house president, coos and chirps like a hairier Baby Yoda. The feeble puppet helps sell the notion that this slow-moving creature could never engage in carnage. But the top-tier puppeteers, who rightfully deserve their top billing, prove otherwise.
The film wastes no time setting up the idea that Emily, played by Lisa Ambalavanar, needs this sloth to become popular to win her sorority presidency. The movie does not slowly build character or flesh out its premise. Unlike its namesake, Slotherhouse moves fast under Matthew Goodhue’s direction. It knows what people want from a film about a killer sloth, and it gets right to it. This directness also serves as a source of humor as characters announce their intentions and circumstances directly. An “objectively good” film would never do this, but Slotherhouse commits to its premise. “Killer sloth, no time to explain!” is all the exposition given and desired. What more do you need?
Slotherhouse sticks to a ridiculous tone throughout as it skewers social media culture. This is Alpha’s world; the humans are just dying in it. But the cast helps maintain the campiness. Lisa Ambalavanar makes Emily endearing through her curious and naïve demeanor as the sloth builds up a body count around her. In a long take of Emily finding a door unlocked after Alpha kills her captor, Ambalavanar wordlessly—and humorously—hurdles over the skepticism with her ever-adapting reactions. Faced with anything sketchy, she considers it and then moves on with her next thought.
Another standout is Olivia Rouyre as Emily’s BFF Madison, the only person with legitimate qualms about Emily adopting a wild animal she knows nothing about. Rouyre plays it straight against the goofballs around her. Still, she provokes laughs by melodramatically committing to the bit without going whole ham once her character begins to suffer.
But the award for MHH (most hilarious human) has to go to Tiff Stevenson for her portrayal of inebriated house mother Ms. Mayflower. The only person with more than five lines of dialogue at a time, Stevenson uses her standup background to great effect in her rambling monologues. Arguably, these alone solidify the story as high camp. Interrupted by Emily in the middle of her “whole thing,” the self-aware line brought the house down in my showing. The whole cast understands the assignment, such as Sydney Craven as the requisite mean girl vying for the presidency against Emily.
Stopping just short of being a parody, Slotherhouse nevertheless references many iconic slasher flicks—and works in quotes from all kinds of films. In utilizing the tropes and iconography of everything from Halloween to The Shining, Slotherhouse should prove a delight for well-versed horror fans. Many will see the twists and kills coming a mile away, but that’s the point. The joy comes from knowing that an iconic scheme will get carried out by a three-toed sloth, and watching that—slowly—unfold.
Slotherhouse knows what kind of movie it wants to be and commits to its over the top premise, delivering laughs instead of scares. Along the way, it skewers the fickleness of social media. But it’s mainly about a slasher sloth.
Campy B-movie that leans right into its premise.
Recreations of iconic slasher film kills—but with a sloth.