The next episode of Slasher: Flesh & Blood drops Thursday on Shudder with another doozy that pits family against family on the playing field and off, and highlights just how deep some of those arguments are seeded. Look for a hand-to-hand fight scene that stops just short of murder but still inflicts some permanent damage. And we get a little more clarification on how Liv got here.
In the next part of my conversation with series creator Aaron Martin and Season 3 and 4 showrunner Ian Carpenter, we talk about casting, characters, and staging the obstacle courses and that monster fight scene.
One of the fun things for viewers who’ve been watching since Season 1 is the return of cast members from season to season. This time around, Chris Jacot and Paula Brancati are back for their fourth turn and Sabrina Grdevich returns for her second. Carpenter and Martin say a mix of factors informs how, where, and whether cast members come back.
“When we’re coming up with our characters, oftentimes we’re talking about which of our returning actors or other actors we have wanted to work with would be good for those roles, because, in Canada, at some point or another you’ve worked with, or have seen the work of, other actors, so we know shorthand wise, who excites us,” explains Martin.
“And there are obviously people in our cast who we loved. We’d love to bring back everybody in the cast, but there are some definite fan favorites, like Paula Brancati gets the fans excited and it gets us excited, too.”
“And then there are always a few parts where we don’t necessarily see somebody who we’ve worked with before that can fit it and then we cast out wider for that part.”
“I presume and hope for the fans as well, that there’s a carry over of layers and pleasures there. Fans that have seen the previous seasons [will appreciate] the relationships from the previous season. I still have so much fun with the greatness of those actors and knowing the other things they can do, watching them be entirely different,” adds Carpenter.
“Sabrina Grdevich, who plays Florence, had a very small part in season one where she was Dean McDermott’s wife. We both love her and we just kept thinking about her for this part. And we auditioned people and then [we realized] maybe our initial instinct was the right one. And she came in and was just amazing,” says Martin.
Since the show is block-shot, there’s also no mystery for the cast once they come onboard. Everyone knows from the jump whether they’re the killer, and if not, when their character will die.
One of the themes this season is a series of physical competitions that make the family members prove their mettle. Carpenter credits director Adam MacDonald and the stunt team with capturing those, as well as the fight scene you’ll see Thursday. “I had patches made for the director of photography and the director,” says Carpenter about Thursday’s throwdown. “That was a 96-setup day, which was a record for us and a record for everyone [on set]. I’m not saying that fight was 96, but all the pieces and everything [to get the whole scene] was.”
And the competition setups take a village, too. “There are an enormous number of meetings about those things — how we are going to do [them], and how they’ll be realistic and safe. That is a huge challenge,” shares Carpenter. “That’s just sweated over more than anything in this season, even more than some of those kills. And it is us stupidly suggesting, ‘Hey, let’s have them compete for the money.’ And then we realized, ‘Oh, we have to actually pull that off.'”
Carpenter says he often litmus tested ideas with that team to check the feasibility of actually getting them on film before committing them to the page. “I would reach out to James Binkley, our stunt coordinator. There’s a scene involving electricity, [and we discussed it] and he [told me what it would take to] stage physically and what worried him and he [suggested alternate options],” he explains.
“The actors get into it. And some of those things are legit. Like the rope challenge … we have someone on our crew, Steff Millman, who designs challenges for Amazing Race Canada [and she told us], ‘I’ve seen a version of that take down Olympic athletes.’
“There are aspects of it that are very, very physically challenging. And you definitely saw it on the day because there were two days of shooting that towards the end of the day. Certain people who were in great shape were just wrecked by it.”
Each season has spanned eight episodes, and Martin says that seems to be the perfect length to tell each story, and they march to that. They also recognize that an ensemble can only be so big. “I think if it was more than eight [episodes], it would be hard to sustain a mystery like this for that long,” Martin points out. “It feels like ten would be too much. We do ten on Another Life and that doesn’t have a mystery in it and that feels right. But for this, it feels like mystery needs to be contained.”
“When we came up with season four, we had more characters and then when you start breaking the episodes, you realize that [one] character is actually doing what [another] character does [and then we ask ourselves], ‘Why don’t we just make them into one character.’’
“Practically speaking, budget-wise, we can only afford so many people. When you’re in a setting like season four, which has a family, on an island, it only makes sense to have so many characters to it.”
“It’s tricky too, with some of those big group scenes. Everyone can relate this to their lives. If you’re in a room with that many people, there are going to be some loud voices and a bunch of other people, just because of the type of personality they have, they’re going to get really quiet,” says Carpenter. “So it’s sort of measuring how we can serve all of that. And then eventually, sometimes courtesy of murder, give those people a chance to start speaking.”
Slasher Season 4 is streaming on Shudder in the US and premieres October 4th at 9 pm ET on Hollywood Suite in Canada with two episodes every Monday for four weeks. In case you missed it, all of our Slasher coverage is here.
Here’s a sneak peek of this week’s episode.
— Shudder (@Shudder) August 16, 2021
Photos Courtesy of Shudder and Ian Carpenter.