With its ludicrous potential built right into its title, Slotherhouse nabs your attention immediately with its narrative hook. A mammal as notoriously slow as a sloth surely can’t be fast enough to kill predatorial animals, let alone a house full of sorority girls, right? It’s just so bombastically ridiculous that it could absolutely work as a shameless send-up of other, more serious-minded slasher films.
Who would’ve thought then that it never jumps the shark enough to truly earn so-bad-its-good status? Not this reviewer who was promised bloody lunacy, but left more with a battered limp.
At times riffing on the standard Halloween formula, where the sloth – here nicknamed Alpha – subs in for Michael Myers, lurking around the sorority house walls as it picks off a variety of interchangeable college girls, and others where it leans so heavily into spoofing that it feels like a failed Mel Brooks comedy from his questionable 90s filmography – if you’ve ever wanted to see a sloth use a smartphone and drive a car, look no further – Slotherhouse is never sure just what temperament it wants to commit to. Instead of picking a lane, director Matthew Goodhue (Woe) and screenwriter Bradley Fowler (The Voices) swerve with reckless abandon, hoping that just getting to their destination safely is enough.
As to just why a sloth is terrorising a sorority house, well it all starts rather promising – for us as an audience, at least – when the pre-credit sequence lets us in on the apparent unknown fact that sloths are stone-cold killers, and despite their slow nature they’re able to rip apart animals as sizeable as a crocodile. After emerging from the murky jungle waters, and giving the camera a devious smile, Slotherhouse appears as if it has its tongue firmly in its cheek, and sets off on its merry way, with sorority president-wannabe Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar) hoping that purchasing the since-poached sloth will bump up her popularity points in the house, and rightfully overtake the stereotypically snarky Brianna (Sydney Craven), the current head-bitch-in-charge.
The sloth, who the girls name Alpha, then takes charge of its own being by stalking and slaughtering the household in a number of ways that then further begs the question of if we’re going to sit through such silliness, can it at least be bloody enough to make it worth our while? If ever there was a film that needed to embrace an R-rated mentality, it’s Slotherhouse, and in treading a rather bloodless line it robs itself of the kind of genre potential needed to make it watchable beyond being a title of sheer curiosity.
Though Ambalavanar turns in a performance better than what the material deserves and the sloth effects are pretty impressive for its budget, Slotherhouse, sadly, fails to match the absurdity its very title suggests. By no means was this ever expected to be anything other than the farcical notion of a killer sloth, but when the team involved can’t even truly deliver on that premise it ultimately lands as a movie that’s not so bad it’s good, but more it’s so bland it’s forgettable; and that’s something a killer sloth movie should never be.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Slotherhouse is now available On Demand in the United States. An Australian release is yet to be determined.