You ever have that moment in a movie where you realise you made a poor decision picking it to watch? In Slaughter of the Innocents, that moment happened when the director’s son Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus sat on a bench outside of school talking on an early ’90s cell phone with his dad. An unknown student walks by and says hi to Jesse and Jesse says hi back and they both high five each other. It was that precise moment I knew I made a very, very bad decision.
Slaughter of the Innocents feels like two movies battling it out. One side is a serious, Silence of the Lambs-esque thriller about a sadistic killer of children and the FBI Agent (Scott Glenn) who is trying to hunt him down. The other side is an after-school special about a genius kid who is captivated with solving crimes. A whiz-kid who can use computer software that didn’t exist in ’93. A child who can intimidate a grown man for no reason. A boy who is friends with everyone. A director’s son who wears his ’90s over-sized clothes in such an irritating way you want to punch the screen. Regrettably, it’s the latter side that wins out in this unnecessary battle.
Slaughter of the Innocents had the potential to be a good film. Certain elements are there that would have worked well. The first thing we get rid of is the kid plot. Seriously, this plot is unnecessary. Everything the child does could have been performed by Scott Glenn’s character Stephen Broderick if he just did his damn job instead of taking his kid to the murder scenes. This kid is surely going to grow up to be a serial killer, and you can be damn sure his father won’t be able to catch him. Any time Jesse comes up with a connection or clue, Stephen looks at him in amazement and gives thanks to him for his great detective skills. Seriously, you are the FBI agent Stephen! Just do your damn job!!
It isn’t just the kid who ruins the film. There are several moments of absurdity that leads to a lot of unintentional humour. From the killer looking like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld, witches(?) hissing at Johnny Cage, to an FBI agent dressed in an over-sized coat and a large enough tie to make Donald Trump jealous. Hell, I haven’t even touched upon the fact the killer was able to steal a couple of giraffes from a zoo. They end up being used for his crazy Texas Chainsaw Massacre ark he is building in a uranium mine. Honestly, seeing how he managed to steal them without getting caught would have made this movie Oscar-worthy.
I could go on and on about what could have been, but it’s a futile mission, and I just don’t have the time. Instead, let’s jump over to the Blu-ray and see what Synapse Films has provided us.
Synapse Films isn’t like most other Blu-ray companies. They aren’t cranking out release after release. Instead, they tend to take their time. Now, I’m not saying that means Blu-rays from Synapse are better than, say, Scream Factory or Arrow Video just because they are slower. No, I just mean that when a Synapse Films Blu-ray comes our way, there is a certain expectation as to what we will be getting. The question is, does Slaughter of the Innocents meet those expectations? It’s a tough question to answer as information on the Blu-ray is fairly limited. We don’t know much about the transfer and whether or not it’s the same as the DigiBook release that came out in 2013. I can tell you that some of the scenes look a bit rough with the occasional dirt and debris present. For the most part, though, it’s satisfactory. We have posted our gallery, and you can check out some of the shots to see for yourself. Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and I noticed no issues. The dialogue was clear, and you didn’t need to fiddle with the volume dial to find the sweet spot between loud and low sounds.
Gallery: Slaughter of the Innocents (Synapse Films Blu-ray) Screenshots
When we access the bonus features, we are treated to a mix of old and new. The new features come in the form of two featurettes, the first with make-up effects designer Gabe Bartalos, who discusses all those dead bodies during the ending. The second featurette is with Director of Photography Mark Irwin. The runtime of both of these features combined equal to roughly 20-minutes. What we get next is an audio commentary with director James Glickenhaus and archival interviews with James Glickenhaus, Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus, and Scott Glenn. I find it funny that the interview with Jesse runs a mere 53 seconds. The Archival Electronic Press Kit featurette has been included and runs around 9-minutes. We have deleted scenes in standard definition, the audition tape for Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus, trailers, and finally an alternate assault sequence. The theatrical release included a sequence with a neo-nazi, but some countries and territories wouldn’t like that very much, so they shot an alternate sequence with a different actor. Funny enough, the reshot sequence is way more violent and honestly pretty hilarious because of it.
Slaughter of the Innocents is sadly a film that fails more than it dazzles. A good film is hidden in there somewhere, but it’s being blocked by an annoying kid that is insufferable. Throw the kid out the window and give me more of Scott Glenn and maybe, just maybe, you would have had a great movie. Nevertheless, Synapse Films provides a special edition Blu-ray that fans will want to pick up thanks to a likeable video and audio experience, and some new and old features to check out.
When a film has two ideas battling it out, and the one that wins involves an annoying kid with an after-school special vibe, you know something went wrong. At least the Synapse Films Blu-ray is worthwhile for fans.