Sweatshop (2009) – By Nic Brown

Slasher films earn their title from the principal weapons used: the knife, the machete, random sharp tools, etc… the idea is that they cut. Of course that isn’t really the thing that defines the genre, it’s more defined by the perpetrator of the killings: a masked figure that kills without mercy or remorse. Director Stacy Davidson understands this idea very well and plays upon it in his homage to the heyday of slasher horror: SWEATSHOP.

Ashley Kay plays Charlie, a hard edged woman who runs a roving rave. She and her friends show up at an abandoned building, deck it out with lights, disco balls, and a sound system, then throw open the doors to let in the ravers looking for somewhere to dance, party and be themselves, or at least whomever they want to be, for a night of fun.

While not exactly legal, the business is good and it’s a way for Charlie and her friends to make some cash while still living the lifestyle they like. Unfortunately for them, the venue they picked for their next rave isn’t quite as empty as they’d hoped. Lurking in the depths of the building are nameless killers. Several ghoulish women stalk the dark shadows. Their sharp teeth and claws may seem like the biggest danger, but they are just hounds driving the prey to the hunter, a hulking figure called the Beast. Wearing a welding mask and furs that make him appear to be a cross between a steel worker and Grizzly Adams, the Beast is menacing, but it’s his choice of weapons that may make this killer a new icon of fright: a giant hammer used in forges for smashing metals. Swinging the huge weapon with an ease that speaks of nearly inhuman strength, this killer isn’t so much a slasher as a smasher and when he connects chests burst, blood splatters, and what remains is often not easily identified as anything other than bloody hamburger. It is the grizzly results of the Beast’s hammer blows that really make SWEATSHOP stand out.

SWEATSHOP is a non-stop gorefest that leaves the viewer wondering not so much who will die next, but how horrific the death will be. Indie special effects wizard Marcus Koch (100 TEARS and THE UH-OH SHOW) lends his uniquely gruesome talents to bringing the death to life, using his skills with traditional blood and guts effects to craft images that will shock even the most jaded fans of the horror genre. There is more to the film than just the bloody results of the Beast’s hammer time, the characters, both the killers and the victims are well played and fun to watch. Davidson also has a keen eye for cinematography that makes the most of the location and the “rave themed” lighting to enhance the menacing atmosphere and special effects.

If you’re looking for a film with a deep story and extremely well developed characters the check out Sandra Bullock in THE BLIND SIDE. If you’re in the mood for a splatter fest in the vein of 80’s horror flicks, but with it’s own unique style, then check out Stacy Davidson’s SWEATSHOP. And remember if you go to this rave the guy in the welding mask didn’t come here to dance and make sure you get your blue tickets for Loli.