★★★ out of ★★★★★
When your film’s foundation is ensconced in werewolves, witches, ghosts, lots of present day political allegory, a portal to hell, whacked-out fast food delivery kids, and a “shitty” pizza place — you’ve got no where to go but up. Add in Saturday Night Live alum, Chris Parnell, and well, you’ve got yourself a fun little film.
Slice (brought to you by the homies at A24) is a somewhat complicated film (given its goofy premise) that involves a small community that is trying to cope with the 40,000 ghosts that they’ve inadvertently unleashed by way of the demolition of an insane asylum. The ghosts are unfortunately suspended in the community, and the city of Kingfisher, run by Mayor Tracy (Chris Parnell — who’s weirdly obsessed with painting three breasted women), hatches a plan to relocate all of the ghosts to the less desirable sectors of their bucolic community.
And that’s where the complications start. Local pizza delivery jockeys start to get picked off one-by-one, each experiencing a nasty cut, or slice if you will, to the neck. Local Perfect Pizza Base store owner, deftly played by Paul Scheer, does his darnedest to keep his staff upbeat and focused on continuing to deliver a “shitty” product. Joining Scheer are a series of newcomers, including Astrid (Zazie Beats), who take it upon themselves to begin to suss apart this complex series of fast food felonies. Local reporter Sadie Sheridan (Rae Gray) along with her photo sidekick Jackson (Joe Keery of Stranger Things) begins to also track the same line of spooky logic. The gang begins to suspect that the murderous rampage has been brought on by a former Chinese food delivering lycanthrope, Dax (Chance the Rapper — who doesn’t rap in the film), who’s mysteriously reappeared, outside of the full moon cycle, on the scene in Kingfisher.
Interestingly, Slice, with fairly sizable ensemble cast, does a great job of giving every single character a piece (or slice if you will) of the puzzle. There is no real main character and each symbiotically serves to help unravel the fast food satanic whodunit. Along the way there are some exceptional lines “What the fuck does that have to do with Pizza”, “Your pizza place is a gateway to hell”, “So long you Chinese delivery werewolf”, etc. delivered with crafty timing and wit. The laughs are never forced or jokey, but constructed in a way that helps to move the story and not get in its way. Two of the funnier cast members are played by the head of the coven, Vera Marcus (Marilyn Dodds Frank) and her sidekick Debbie (Kelli Simpkins), who take a rather idiot-woman-child approach to their plot to bring Satan topside.
Slice is a really stylish and well done piece of film with many devices firmly planted in 1980s analogue references, set design, soundtrack, costuming, and video footage. However the way it’s filmed and executed allows it to seamlessly wander between 2018 and 1985. Two of the sections of the film that fully embody this sentiment are the very beginning and the very end. The beginning title sequence takes on a wonderful animated quality that captures the style, sound, and capabilities of 1980s animation. It’s done in such a way that simultaneously looks crappy but functions beautifully. Constructing these two things in a synchronistic way ain’t easy and doing it well is no mean feat. In addition to these balancing acts, Slice also manages to almost subconsciously weave in a number of #metoo, fake news, and other thoughtful slices (if you will) of present day political allegory.
While maybe a skosh complex, Slice has a really interesting take on comedy, horror, and the perfect meld of the oft-tried, but seldom accomplished, comedy-horror. Meandering between two genres and pulling in elements from two periods of time is quite the task — but balancing four things in perfect harmony takes some real chops. And that’s what makes Slice so endearing — it’s not a horror film, it’s not a comedy, it’s just a really cool film.
Slice is Rated R and currently streaming on Amazon.