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By Mark Bell | July 5, 2014

It’s 1994, and Kid (Jeremy Isabella) has just turned 18. His friends Buddy (Shawn Thomas) and Dude-Guy (Tyler Rice) want to help him celebrate in the time-honored New Hampshire tradition of going up to Canada to enjoy their strip clubs. On their way up North, they stop off to pick up their friend Bro (Dayo Okeniyi) at Dartmouth, where they also meet one of Bro’s teachers (Kevin Planeta), who suggests they visit a strip club in the middle of nowhere.

On their way to this hidden gem in the Northern wilds, the group not only get somewhat lost, they also eventually break down. The cop (Matt Hish) and tow truck driver (Mike Apple) who come to their aid aren’t necessarily on the up-and-up, and our young friends soon find themselves in a nightmare straight out of Deliverance, with some The Most Dangerous Game thrown in for good measure, right before things get even stranger with the arrival of a clan of feral cannibals, who may or may not be Vikings… or something.

Flood Reed’s Slew Hampshire is a gory jumble of ideas and horrible scenarios. It’s often a high-tempo celebration of backwoods depravity, where men with beards rape, pillage and murder their way through their day. It’s also too ambitious for its own good, confusing a wealth of plot and characters with quality storytelling, leaving a surprisingly convoluted mess instead.

One of the main problems with the film is that eventual abundance of characters that really seem to serve no purpose other than to antagonize, be antagonized or be forgotten. The leads that open the film are as broad-stroked as you can imagine by their names, and everyone else starts to blur into a mass of beards, blood, rape and murder. When you are following what is going on, you don’t really care about anyone because you’ve been given little reason to do so. Not that a slasher-survival horror flick needs loads of character development, but you should at least be somewhat interested in people surviving.

Couple this disconnection with the characters with the surprisingly complicated storyline involving rape-crazy backwoods hunters and a traveling clan of cannibals, and I was actually pretty confused. Not by what is happening, you can follow along fine, but the whole “why” of much of it was lost on me. In its attempt to ambitiously create more of a story than just “Deliverance in New Hampshire,” it just gets muddled. The only thing that consistently sustains is the gore.

And once the film flexes those gory muscles, it keeps the party rolling. It’s not the goriest film I’ve seen in my life; not even the goriest I’ve seen this month, but it does make a good showing in that arena. If you’re a gorehound, and require little else to satisfy your cinematic appetite, then this one should work out just fine for you.

There is a lot of work in the edit to add an abrasive energy to the piece, and maybe that lends to the feeling of disorientation with the story, and ultimately disinterest in the fate of anyone in the film. It works initially to establish a style, and the choice of music is appropriately disturbed, but eventually it begins to feel like a crutch to force a momentum that might otherwise be missing.

In the end, Slew Hampshire delivers the gore, but doesn’t excel in any other sense. Had the film focused on a smaller batch of characters and worked to establish more creeping dread rather than taking wild swings at everything, you’d likely have a film that hits with far more impact. As it stands, folks that like their films blood-soaked will find something to appreciate here, but those with tastes that extend beyond the gore will likely find the film lacking in every other sense.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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