Slasher (2004)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Sales & Marketing, Sociology  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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By his own admission, director John Landis went into Slasher with a limited command of the nuts and bolts of documentary filmmaking, which, in some ways, shows in the final product. Slasher seems to aim for entertaining the audience rather than informing them, but thankfully Landis comes up with a funny and compelling film, largely thanks to the people who happened to pass in front of his cameras. Super-salesman for hire Michael Bennett is the sort of guy who seems destined to be the subject of a movie -- wound so tight that at one point he's caught smoking two cigarettes at once without realizing it. Bennett's heroic consumption of beer throughout the film seems a sort of self-medication that allows him to run at a speed acceptable to other people, and before the cameras he opens himself up to reveal a loving family man with a checkered past and deep insecurities behind his high-volume bravado. Bennett is as strong a character as Landis has ever had in a film, and the director has the good sense to make the most of his abrasive but infectious personality. Landis also shows a genuine affection for nearly all of the folks who cross Bennett's path, many of whom would be very easy to make fun of, from the pregnant would-be college student visibly appalled by the 88-dollar car purchased for her by her parents to a pair of hopeful guys palpably excited about the prospect of buying a used truck (it's all but heartbreaking when the showroom's loan officer insists that the camera be shut off, clueing us in to the notion their credit check turned up sour). While Landis sometimes overdoes it with local Memphis color and a non-stop flow of vintage soul tunes that occasionally get in the way of the action, as a portrait of a fascinating salesman and the folks he works for and with, Slasher is a very entertaining little film that proves the best characters often appear out of nowhere, in real life.