Slices of Life (2010)

Everybody loves a horror anthology; following genre classics like Creepshow right through to TV stalwarts such as Tales From the Crypt and The Twilight Zone. It’s a formula that often works with little effort, because if you don’t like a story, another will be along any minute. It’s an easy starting point for low budget filmmakers because you can make a few shorts, fashion a functioning wraparound and bob’s your flick. That is likely exactly the thought process of fledgling director Anthony G Sumner when he crafted this hit-and-miss horror portmanteau.

Three contained tales heavy with EC-like morality, with a functional interlinked story are what makes up this zero budget horror film. Sumner attempts something a bit different by eventually making the wraparound segment into a story in it’s own right. And sure, it fails. But it was bold, and I give the director credit for that. The three sections are titled Work Life, Home Life and Sex Life.

The first fable, Work Life, contains zombies affected by a nanovirus sent over the internet. Lowly programmer William Robert Moss subverts computer technology in order to win some friends. Obviously, in true Twilight Zone fashion, it goes wrong creating an office block full of gut-munching undeadites. While the ideas are strong, the performances are so distracting it makes it difficult to watch. This is a theme through most of the skits seems to be that the director has hired his friends, family and people from the street to populate his movie. Like the core idea, some of the effects are strong, harkening back to Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch.

Home Life may well contain some really dodgy effects, but it is also the creepiest and spookiest of the three stories here. Following a pregnant woman being haunted by the victims of a peadophile murderer, it manages to manufacture genuine spinal shivers while lumbering towards its telegraphed conclusion.

Last up is Sex Life, a Teeth-alike parable in which a girl and her brother hit the road leaving their abusive uncle in their dust only to find themselves trapped in the home of a serial killer.  The performances in this section are a marked improvement, which actually manages to damage the rest of the flick by proxy. This comic gore piece has some very interesting genre-redefining flourishes and is by far the most interesting. This may be mildly spoilerific so feel free to skip this sentence, but I was amazed to finally see someone with a killer vagina who isn’t a timid rape magnet but uses her affliction in an almost black widow-esque manner.

While uneven, Slices of Life is a fun little low budget anthology. After wading past the shoddy performances, there is a whole lot to enjoy at the core of this movie. Interesting ideas wrapped in competent direction and a streak of ghoulish charm at it’s centre.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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