Being victimized by a random breaking and entering can be a true-to-life terrifying experience on its own. However, the fear factor increases when intruders want nothing but to hear you scream for your life. After all, no motive is what made the home invasion flick The Strangers (Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler) make some genre waves in 2008. For their fourth full-feature Go Away, David Kerr and his indie production company Slasher 15 merges this concept with the Saw franchise “I want to play a game” theme to create another low budgeted grindhouse horror homage.
Opening with a Christmas party, Go Away nearly lost me from the beginning. This wasn’t for any reason other than it’s currently summer and I’m not trying to have Christmas in July. However, the holiday element is merely background noise as a party goer answering a knock at the door is given a seasons greeting with a power saw to the chest. Staying true to their love for old school ’80s slashers, Slasher 15’s crude yet gruesome practical special fx is immediately recognizable. Although more gore could be added to fit some kill scenes, Slasher 15’s dedication to stay far far away from cheap CGI will be appreciated by die-hard fans of the heyday of horror.
After this short Scream-esque opening scene, pre-credits begin to roll to the fitting and maddening tune of Psycho Synner’s song Devil From Hell. For those not in the know, Psycho Synner is the band of Jeremy Spencer (original drummer for Five Finger Death Punch). Another fun fact includes Spencer’s brief cameo as one of the opening scene’s masked intruders whose sloppiness leads to a deadly misstep and brutal demise.
Following the headbanging intro-credits, we’re introduced to Mark (Matthew Sharpe: Bloody Summer Camp) who’s preparing to accompany Liz (Christine Oswald: Wind and Bone) to her family gathering. And in his pocket is a ring. And with this ring, they would be wed. However, Mark doesn’t know Liz’s sister Heather (Emily Zinski) is encouraging his would-be fiancé to drop him like a bad habit. As if this weren’t enough family dinner drama, Liz’s newly married mother Sherry (Tuesday Knight: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 1988) wants to make amends with her estranged daughter for blaming her for her late husband’s death. All while introducing everyone to her knew husband Chuck (Thom Mathews: The Return of the Living Dead 1985). Meanwhile, Liz’s lush of an aunt Mary (Felissa Rose: Sleepaway Camp 1983) holds bitter resentment towards Sherry. All this and more begins to set the tone for a Jerry Springer episode ready to implode before a familiar unfamiliar knock at the door. As the first victim hits the floor, the masked intruders let themselves in and their twisted games commence.
Since Slasher 15’s 2017 debut feature Curse of the Slasher Nurse, the production team has greatly improved. I was especially surprised by their third full-feature release in 2021 titled Bloody Summer Camp. However, there are a few filmmaking and storytelling areas that could see some refinement. On the technical side, something that could be cleaned up are the scene cuts during dialogue. Visually, character conversations often seemed a little jarring thereby distracting the audience from the film’s story.
Although the twisted card game and hide and seek element were good angles, there was potential for much more interesting plot development. The scene was set with so much family drama that a truth or dare angle would have been more fitting. This would have better served the film’s flow, story arch, and character development by flushing out secrets and turning victims against each other while retaining the body horror Slasher 15 was aiming to achieve. Taking this angle could have also made the film’s fun twist much less predictable.
Other than the brutal practical special effects, hardcore horror fans will enjoy seeing ’80s horror icons Rose, Knight, and Mathews sharing the screen with a cameo by not only Spencer, but Robert Mukes from Rob Zombie’s 2003 breakout feature House of 1000 Corpses. However, in the cast lineup, one twisted performance standing out among the rest is DeRome A. Chretien as the film’s leading antagonist. From his mannerisms to his voice, Chretien brings a sense of ruthlessness to the character on every level.
Although Bloody Summer Camp was marginally better, the latest Slasher 15 feature is still miles away from Kerr and Slasher 15’s full-feature debut demonstrating growth in this team’s filmmaking ability. The film has its strong points while leaving room for continued improvement. Missed opportunities with the truth or dare angle aside, Go Away is another fun micro-budgeted Slasher 15 horror homage full of iconic faces indie horror fans will appreciate.