We’re a month past the second season release of Slasher: Guilty Party, which means you’ve seen all of them, right? Great! Let’s dive into the deep end with the spoilers, shall we? When I chatted with showrunner/creator/mad scientist Aaron Martin, we delved into the who/how/what of some of the victims and the killer. Needless to say, spoilers ahead!!
[Warning: Seriously, spoilers ahead for all of Season 2.]
The story begins with the murder of Talvinder (Melinda Shankar), a counselor at a summer camp, who fairly systematically drops herself in the middle of a group of friends and beds one and betrays the others. Martin says it’s not that cut and dry. “I actually have a lot of sympathy for Talvinder. Whenever I had other writers working on scripts, my marching orders were, ‘Talvinder is just a girl who gets in over her head,’” he shares.
“She’s not an evil person. She’s young. This is her first time away from home. She feels the power of her sexuality and she’s using that to go after what she wants. She’s a young adult who…probably never had this kind of freedom and power before and went about it the wrong way.”
“If you look at the episode where she stabs Dawn in the back, she’s doing it out of her own hurt. She really cares about Dawn a lot and wants to be best friends with her and move in with her and she’s just mixing it up in her own pain about what’s happening in her love life.”
The latter-day murders are fairly direct, except for that of Noah (Jim Watson), which goes on for a while, after he’s kidnapped, abused, and assaulted before he finally dies. From Martin’s perspective, Noah had it coming. “For me, Noah is the most despicable character in the show because he tries to rape Talvinder,” he points out. “So, I feel like he didn’t get enough. He pays for it very dearly.”
The survival of Dawn (Paula Brancati) was always a guarantee. “I always wanted Dawn to survive because she’s such a mean character that I loved the idea that she gets to live through this,” he says. “She also goes through a huge arc and becomes a different person.”
[Warning: Finale spoilers ahead.]
The reveal of the killer comes with an extra layer of OMG as we realize in an exquisitely-paced series of scenes that Wren (Sebastian Pigott) is not real, and that quiet, thoughtful, usually-terrified Judith (Leslie Hope) has been behind the killings, in a dissociative state where she interacts with Wren.
Martin explains that his death years earlier led to the initial mental breakdown, the work she’d done within the community to reintegrate herself was shattered with the arrival of the group, and that non-familial relationship between mother and son always existed.
“In my head, she’s been seeing him [all along], but she doesn’t interact with him until the five show up, and then she has a psychotic break. She always knows that he’s her son. In her confusion, she’s not realizing that she’s the one doing his actions until that scene in her bedroom,” he explains. “[Their relationship when he was alive] was unhealthy. All those letters she reads are letters he wrote to her before he died and they’re quite close to love letters.”
Martin says there were a few lessons learned between shooting Season 1 and shooting Season 2. “Both seasons were contained in 8 episodes and very arced, regardless. Season 1 takes place over three or four months, and Season 2 takes place over 3 or 4 days, so I wanted things to make sense time-wise…from the minute they get there to the minute Peter (Lovell Adams-Gray) [dies],” he says.
“The kill scenes are so hard to shoot and they take up so much time. They are a testament to our director, and prosthetics team and our actors. We spent even more time on them in Season 2. We thought it would be better to have a contained cast in one spot, but it was harder to do some scenes without all of them in it because they were all there. We were shooting it as a large movie. It was a difficult but cost-effective way of doing a show on a low budget.”
One of the bright spots in the season is the unconventional love story of Antoine (Christopher Jacot) and Renee (Joanne Vannicola). Martin loved telling it. “I’ve done a lot of gay stories throughout my career and I really wanted to show another version of what it’s like to be gay. Sometimes when you’re a gay person, your chosen family is who you spend more time with. The concept and idea of love isn’t two kids in the suburbs with a car in a driveway. There are different ways of being authentic,” he says.
“Why is it wrong that two people who love each other find each other even if they don’t have sex with each other? Neither of them is pretending to be straight. They’re very out and open with who they are. [They even say in the show], ‘We love each other and wish it was like this with each other in every way possible.’ The only way it wasn’t correct was physically.”
Next up, Martin is revisiting old territory, and waiting to kick off new adventures. “Jana Sinyor and I are writing a Being Erica movie of the week,” he says. “I’ve got couple of shows in development and we’ll see whether that happens, and hopefully, [we’ll do] Season 3 of Slasher.”
Photos Courtesy of Netflix and Shaftesbury TV