Media scapegoat Patrick Slayer claims his father and his family members killed the girl he's being accused for, saying that he was forced to film the murder. Through interviews we get his side of the story, and finally we witness the truth in what they shot.
With "The Slayers: Portrait of a Dismembered Family" I had expected something a lot more comedic and silly. I'll be frank and say that I dislike the title, it sounds extremely forced, but originally I thought that was the point and that the movie wouldn't take itself seriously. The movie definitely has a messed up, sometimes "fun", atmosphere, but overall it's a movie that takes itself seriously in the way of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". This was an instant plus in my book.
When a girl, Anna, disappears, the blame is directed towards Patrick Slayer. He becomes a media figure and uses his status to attempt to launch a career, but through his interviews there's always something strange going on. He blames his family for the murder - his father especially - claiming that he was forced to film the murder. The family say that it was all just special effects and spawned out of an idea of Patrick's, and that Anna was never murdered. By the end of the movie we see the film that was shot during the time of the murder, and it reveals a very sick family.
Despite the movie being somewhat serious, there were numerous moments that came off as unintentionally silly. Perhaps this is where the title comes in too. The family's name is the Slayers? It just doesn't work. I get that they might have wanted a dark comedy-vibe to it, but naming them Slayer was a weird decision. Beyond the family name and the title (let's not ignore the "Dismembered" bit), we have several moments that just feel forced and unintentionally stupid. This is apparent in the interview with Patrick, the film where they mess around with Anna, and so on.
It's not all bad, it has some good gore effects towards the end. They're miles above many other torture movies of similar budgets. There's also something messed up with the games they push Anna through, which gives the movie a much more interesting tone than your general torture flick. And let's not ignore that David Poulter, playing Stanley - the father, was surprisingly good in his patriarchal role amongst a bunch of goofballs. Donna Beeching also stood out as the victim.
"The Slayers: Portrait of a Dismembered Family" suffers from a few things. It actually starts rather interesting when title cards tell us the back story. It seriously piqued my curiosity, and this was one of those rare times where the title cards actually add to the movie. It's just unfortunate that the title cards told the story in a better way than the footage actually did - since the movie ended up feeling unintentionally stupid where the title cards were spot on in tone. I didn't feel like the interview added much to the movie since that's where it was the weakest. The film showing the murder, while not always perfectly executed, did help a bit after the first half.
In the end, this isn't a horrible movie. It might not be very good either, but it succeeds where plenty of movies didn't. The fact that they tried to make it serious, despite my expectations, remains the biggest positive to it. There are other factors making it an okay movie, so if you're curious then you can decide for yourself. It's a mockumentary that dabbles in cannibalism, torture, cults and various other joyful things. We got the from the filmmakers a while back, but it's currently showing at the Viewster Online Film Festival for another day (until 25 September 2014).