“What better place to learn bullying than at an English Public School.”
Slaughterhouse Rulez tells the story of Don Wallace whose mother ships him off to an English Public School with the name, brace yourselves, Slaughterhouse. Now that should already tell you that what we are dealing with here are astronomic degrees of irony. Proceed if you wish but know that you have been warned. There are all sorts of strange things going on in Slaughterhouse, from Toga-orgies for Gods (senior students) over severe homophobia to Juniors being feathered because they didn’t know all the answers on their test. Charming, right? One day, a mysterious hole forms nearby the school and unleashes unspeakable horrors onto the students and Don and his companions have to fight for their lives.
One of the movie’s biggest issues is its use of intertextuality for the mere sake of it, a phenomenon that’s quite trendy at the moment with films like Deadpool excessively quoting other movies without real dramatic motivation and also making overindulgent use of metafictional devices for the same reason. There is a wide span of allusions throughout Slaughterhouse Rulez ranging from Stranger Things, 300, Apocalypse Now to Battleship Potemkin but they are almost consistently not motivated by the narrative. It’s like using jewels to decorate your car tires: nice and shiny to look at but is there any practical reason for it? Nick Frost high on shrooms reciting Coleridge’s Kubla Khan is just another example for how the use of intertextuality is only for show because you could replace the extract with any other line of poetry and it wouldn’t make a difference. It seems as if those scenes made it into the final cut just to generate a meta-awareness in the audience because apparently that’s desirable or cool.
In general, the film is a strange pastiche piece that cannot really decide which time, movies or genres it is trying to imitate, resulting in an empty copy of tropes we have already consumed countless times before without really adding any substance to the canon. Just because Battleship Potemkin features a couple of the most iconic shots and sequences ever, it doesn’t mean that “borrowing” those will make your own picture more sophisticated. On the contrary, it makes it look unnecessarily forced and awkward, like a person with an “I-am-cool” shirt trying to convince you of the validity of the statement. The sheer number of genres Slaughterhouse Rulez is trying to pull off, sci-fi, college film à la American Pie, fantasy, horror and eco-criticism, simply results in a complete dramatic overload.
The one subject of high importance, namely a pupil hanging himself because he was being bullied for being gay, gets completely lost in a huddle of overall flat characters and English clichés that unfortunately robs the film of making a point (if it actually set out to make one). On top of all of that, the visual effects are not really convincing at best and create a rather disruptive than immersing energy. Or maybe they are immersing for that exact reason?
The guide on how to watch this film is in the title. A school with the name of Slaughterhouse is just satiric to the utmost degree and can only be regarded as one thing: a joke. So, if you’ve had a heavy week and just want to switch off and share a good laugh with your friends, this film is for you but don’t expect too much substance.