[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
This Thursday, US audiences can get their gore on when Slasher‘s fourth season, “Flesh & Blood,” makes its US premiere on its new home, Shudder, before premiering October 4th in Canada on Hollywood Suite. It’s the third stop for the series, which began on Chiller and Super Channel for Season 1 before jumping to Netflix for Seasons 2 and 3 (and where all three seasons are currently available).
If you’re new to the title, Slasher is a horror anthology series with each season devoted to a single arc and set of characters. The action spins on a serial killer and is equal bursts of comedy, drama, and extreme gore. In other words, it was long overdue to land on Shudder, where horror connoisseurs set a high (or is it low?) bar. And Slasher does not play. It’s all in.
This season, the action centers on the worst family reunion ever when three generations of the one-percenter Galloway family descend on the remote island compound of patriarch Spencer (David Freaking Cronenberg) and his wife, Grace (Rachael Crawford). They’re joined by their son, Jayden (Corteon Moore), and the children from Spencer’s first marriage, Seamus and Florence (Chris Jacot in his fourth outing and Sabrina Grdevich in her second), who arrive with their respective families (Paula Brancati returns as Seamus’s wife, Christy).
The annual reunion usually involves some sort of near-death gamesmanship in pursuit of a monetary prize. Well, this year, kids, there’s no “near” about it, as they start being picked off one by one by a masked killer. And as an added bonus, some of the family members don’t want to wait that long — they’re perfectly happy to start the killing without him or her.
I jumped on a Zoom yesterday to chat with series creator Aaron Martin and showrunner Ian Carpenter about the new season directed by Adam MacDonald, who returns from Season 3. Here’s the first part of our conversation.
The homicidal family aspect was a blast for them to incorporate this time around. “It’s just so much fun for us, those moments when people are locked up on the island or in the house. Everyone here has a motivation and they’ve been schooled by Spencer to compete at the highest level. What he’s demanding of them might make one or more of them step up in that way,” says Carpenter. “That’s super exciting and we love that sense, instead of paranoia, of doubt, that it casts on everything. It’s also great to be able to have your characters, not in a big costume, attacking each other.”
“Not that the people that attack each other aren’t necessarily also the killer.”
While it would seem that the season once again taps into the current times — people quarantined with their families due to the pandemic — the duo hatched the idea for the series early in 2020 before the forced lockdowns were a thing. “I feel like twice we’ve been almost really fortunate in the timing of those things, because, when we were writing [Season 3], it was a little ahead of all of that stuff blowing up to the degree it did. And I think if we had been writing it in the middle of it, possibly if it had come out [later on], then you might feel like that saturated the discussion,” shares Carpenter.
“We’re lucky that this is something that is very much a highly relatable, hot-button topic. I don’t think that’s us being super-prescient and clever. It’s just [us] riding that emotional wave with everyone else about what’s going on in the world. We broke [the season’s episodes] last summer during the height of that.”
“We were shooting in October last year and for probably 90% of the crew and the cast, it was the first gig that they [had during the pandemic], and so everyone was dealing with [socializing again]. And the masks and the proximity, and [the question of], ‘How am I going to deal with this?’ and being social for possibly the first time outside of your household and all that kind of stuff.”
“I think that that really trickled into the performances with all these people showing up in each other’s lives again for that annual event and all the loneliness that comes with all of that, it feels like it’s soaked into those days.”
Martin was coming off the second season filming of Netflix’s Another Life, which had to pause and then restart, and shared with the Slasher team ahead of time what they could expect going back into production during COVID. “By the time Ian and company started to do the day-to-day of shooting Season 4, I had been through it a bit. I remember having conversations [with them],” he shares.
“I think the first thing I told everybody, which was sad for me to tell, is that, when you’re shooting a show, it’s pretty fun. It’s like being at camp in some ways. COVID protocols don’t allow that to happen because obviously you have to be so careful with everything. A lot of the [things that were] fun in previous shoots just can’t be there until this disease goes away because it’s too dangerous to do it otherwise.”
The casting of the show is always a ton of fun, and this season, they were elated to score horror grandmaster Cronenberg as the patriarch who sets the whole season in motion. “Shudder is our new home and we wanted to bring a big name to come with the season,” explains Carpenter.
“The way that the show was set up, we had a patriarch written in and the patriarch of Canadian horror is David.”
“So it was a kind of natural person to go to. We all had made lists and he was there at the top of everyone’s list and everyone had a big reaction. It was clear to everyone that there’s a way in which that character was written, that there could be a violent and explosive performance of that, or you could do what David brings to it.”
“And we all were really excited about what we knew he could do. He blew all our minds once he got there and it was a perfect marriage. It’s a huge part. It’s not some guest part. It’s enormous, it’s pivotal, it’s in so many of the episodes and it’s a big emotional piece. And he was amazing and such a pleasure to work with.”
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. Check back next week for more of our interview. Here’s a sneak peek of the new season. In case you missed it, all of our Slasher coverage is here.