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Review: Slice

Every so often a film comes along that is likely to grow in favor and find an audience over time. These types of films are often called cult classics. Austin Vesely's Slice has the makings of such a film. It was just released unceremoniously on VOD by A24 days after having its first screenings in theaters. It stars Chance Bennett (aka Chance the Rapper) who has worked with Vesely on many of his music videos. It also is original in its mix of pizza deliveries, werewolves, ghosts, and socially-minded humor.

Set in Kingfisher, a fictional ghost town that has an actual growing population of specters, Slice follows the mysterious murders of pizza delivery workers. We meet pacifist werewolf Dax (Bennett), who returns to town at the wrong time and becomes a suspect. There is Perfect Pizza's moronic manager played by the great Paul Scheer who doesn't want to admit his employees are dying. There are the two detectives working the case (Will Brill and Tim Decker) and a young reporter (Rae Gray) trying to piece it all together. There is a slew of side characters as well.

Vesely is not subtle about the sociopolitical commentary he wants to infuse in this mashup of 80's cheese and 1950's horror style. Racial division and gentrification are at the forefront of the film's subtext. For instance, the mayor (Chris Parnell) is trying to displace the ghost population, demolishing spooky buildings in place of strip malls. He wants to segregate the living from the dead and it isn't hard to understand why Chance the Rapper got involved here.

Slice has an episodic flow to its narrative. The film feels more like a series of episodes than a film. This gives the film a herky-jerky momentum that undercuts any building suspense of horror. However disjointed this makes Slice feel, it does allow for Vesely to build an original world where witches and ghosts and pizza all make sense. The film was made for about a million dollars and Vesely cleverly uses every penny to give Slice the feeling of a complete style.  This is the element fans of the film will likely grasp onto.

Slice is helped greatly by the talent involved behind the scenes. The film looks great thanks to the colorful cinematography of Brandon Riley. Arielle Sherman's editing is lively and hip and keeps the film moving quickly even when it doesn't always make a whole lot of sense. The film's score by Nathan Matthew David and Ludwig Göransson is hypnotic and cool as hell. It may be no surprise to hear that Göransson is the man behind Childish Gambino's sound and the composer for Black Panther. His work fits the film perfectly.

Many fans of Chance the Rapper will come to see if Lil Chano can act or not. He certainly has charm and presence here but his delivery is often flat in comparison to the more seasoned cast that surrounds him. He never sells emotions fully but he still oozes smoothness. He certainly doesn't embarrass himself here but he could use a little more work when it comes to emoting.

Slice is original as hell and that is the best thing about it. It is never a boring film or one struggling to find creative energy. It is also pretty funny. These elements keep it afloat even when the story fails to engage. The film's message is clear yet this year has already brought us Blindspotting, a film that deals with the same social issue in a far more effective way.



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