Cinema Quarantino is an ongoing series of alternative streaming picks for the self-quarantined and the socially distanced, as selected by the film staff of Boston Hassle. To browse the rest of our picks, click here!
THE FILM: Slice (2010) dir. Austin Veseley
THE STREAMER: Kanopy
Though I’ve recently spent a lot of quarantine time formulating opinions about non-important things (somewhere rattling in my head is an undernourished op-ed for a specific Taylor Swift song), I try not to dwell on the aggravating things that people can do and have done during quarantine. If I may steal the introductory words of the sponsors in my inbox that are attempting to balance human empathy and sales quota, it’s a weird time. It’s also dangerous, sometimes irrational, and overall scary. While I’m not in the game of policing the general public (for now), I will plead that, for the love of God, please be nice to essential workers.
Austin Veseley’s Slice resembles a sort of mystic circle of hell for service employees, in which an unknown entity is slitting fast food delivery workers’ throats upon arrival of their customers’ residences. Maybe the comparison to the risks in today’s pandemic (or people’s behaviors in pandemics) aren’t far off. But whether you’ve heard about this movie because of the A24 brand or because it’s Chance the Rapper’s first film performance, there is no easy summation of words that can hold what Slice is putting down, other than the certain fact that being a delivery worker is a tough job.
The fictional town of Kingfisher is inhabited by both the living and the dead, where the latter is still able to interact with the former in the same existential plane once they’re permanently incapacitated in their physical bodies. Frazzled by the PR mess that is the recent slayings, Kingfisher is also stirred by the concurrent protests calling to tear down Perfect Pizza, which lies on haunted land and may be the reason for the murderous havoc. The movie has big ideas for small-town heroes and unfinished drafts of fusing supernatural lore with quirkiness, all confined within an indie flick budget. Slice would be playing in a different league had its priorities lain in large set production, longer action takes, and fleshed out characters, but that would have uprooted the badge of locale honor (filmed in a town an hour away from Chicago where Veseley and Chance have frequently collaborated) and the naturally campy vibe that comes with a movie about werewolves and witches in the ’80s aesthetic.
The “cheap thrills” are a peculiar component in the A24 roster, which seemed to have spiked in 2014 with zomb-rom-com Life After Beth and walrus body horror Tusk. Nonetheless, Slice has the makings of a slick reinvention of the ’80s, starting from a new-ish, talented crop of actors and ending with the underlying oscillations of a synthesized bass line. These may as well have been the same characteristics that may have propelled Stranger Things into the phenomenon that it is now, but Slice crosses the thin line to yield a self-aware amalgamation of retro absurdity. It’s all fun and games, but when you’re at home alone waiting for Grubhub to come and you hear that doorbell ring, better tip twice.
dir. Austin Veseley
Now streaming on Kanopy
Streaming is no substitute for taking in a screening at a locally owned cinema, and right now Boston’s most beloved theaters need your help to survive. If you have the means, the Hassle strongly recommends making a donation, purchasing a gift card, or becoming a member at the Brattle Theatre, Coolidge Corner Theatre, and/or the Somerville Theatre. Keep film alive, y’all.