[General spoilers ahead.]
Slasher: Ripper wraps up Thursday with a delicious two-part finale that finally unveils the Widow, but not before we say goodbye to a couple more folks. But first, I chat with showrunner Ian Carpenter and series creator Aaron Martin about carefully creating the aesthetic of the turn of the last century in Toronto, and continually upping their game with their partners in crime, director Adam MacDonald and director of photography Scott McClellan.
The pair settled on the Ripper subtitle from the jump, and say it set the tone. “I think Ripper just throws you immediately into the era. A thing that was exciting to us is building the point of view, and if you will, the politics, not that it’s a political show, but the politics baked into the show that Aaron has created. We were excited because we’re talking about gender and amongst the class, and the richer, the poorer of it all. We were excited to take the Ripper, the original serial killer, and turn that on its head and take that apart,” explains Carpenter.
“We loved that opening, that you could be looking at that and [wondering], ‘Is this Jack the Ripper?’ And there are rumors about Jack the Ripper coming to Toronto as there were also rumors about the Ripper going to Chicago and was he [Sherlock] Holmes and all that kind of stuff. There’s these sort of quiet periods, and how did that guy just disappear?”
They especially loved crafting the thematic mood for the season from that the first moment.
“I’m certain that this affected everyone … Adam MacDonald, our director, and everyone on crew and the cast, that opening shot where you follow Alastair through the Devil’s Elbow. There’s horses and livestock and blood and guts and grossness everywhere and there’s this incredible backdrop. We were all filming with our phones [because it was] so real. So that felt really exciting, for all of us,” Carpenter recalls.
The season filmed on a Toronto studio backlot and at locations around Hamilton. “We had access to an incredible back lot, which [McClellan] just shot brilliantly and Adam used brilliantly, and really flexed that. The cemetery in Hamilton and one of the first cemeteries in Canada. And some of the years on those gravestones are right for the period and all that.”
With the throughline of Georges and the occult, the duo got to take the show somewhere new. “I love the fact that we got to do supernatural stuff. We’ve avoided it and it’s been a rule in the show that we’re not allowed to do it. So this season earned it and it was really fun showing that kind of stuff,” explains Martin.
Slasher: Ripper is the third season that MacDonald has directed all eight episodes, and Carpenter and Martin say they love teasing out the season to come for him as they write. “We generally send him little emails and say, ‘You get to do this! You get to do that!’ And then he gets really excited and then he wants to know what else he’s going to get to do,” Martin laughs.
“Adam takes our scripts and elevates them. We’re spoiled with him because we know that we’ll say, ‘Hey, that’s a tracking shot through the city.’ And then he’s gonna make it incredibly amazing and visual and stunning and get great performances.”
It’s all part of their collaborative process of figuring things out from script to screen. “There’s deep, deep pre-production because you’re block shooting eight episodes and Adam is a meticulous pre-planner,” says Carpenter. “It’s incredible. It’s mind blowing everything he works out. Who else is doing this? I know there’s a few other people doing it, but, I’ll go back to season four, the fight in the kitchen between the three women. That had 96 shots.”
“He’s working out so much there. And, as Aaron says, the elevation is [extraordinary]. You don’t need to worry about anything. And it’s fun and I know how excited he gets. There was something on set this season that was some brutal challenge, and a lot of those kills and things are, and he turned to me [and asked], ‘Do you guys think about this when you’re writing it down and I’m gonna have to try and make [it work]?’ And I said, ‘No, man, we’re trying to tell a great story.’”
“And he’s not complaining. He’s got a smile on his face, but it’s so great that we have someone like him with his talent that we can drop just a brutal bomb on him and say, ‘This is what we want to do in season four. We want to quarter someone with winches in every corner of the room with 10 other people fighting, trying to stop it. How the heck are you gonna do that? How are you gonna shoot it?’”
As for that two-part finale, it’s a doozy. Here’s what you can expect:
Georges and Garvey are released following Dr. Israel’s murder. After his multipart come to Jesus last week, Georges continues to unravel, with happier memories invaded by threatening interlopers. It’s enough for Shanika to peace out, leaving Georges on his own when then things don’t get any better among the living.
Verdi starts to see the silver lining in her arrangement with Garvey, and we start to see that she’s a very quick study as the fracturing Botticelli sisters get as good as they gave and then some.
Kenneth is even more driven to solve things after losing his investigative partner, but it doesn’t take long to find another one. Gladys is again on the receiving end of Garvey’s wrath but she, too, gains an ally.
As Pastor May recovers, Kenneth asks for his help. There’s A LOT going on, and the final scene is just gorgeously lensed, albeit a little (or a lot) squishy.
The final two episodes of Slasher: Ripper premiere Thursday at 3:01 am ET on Shudder and AMC+ in the U.S and at 9 pm ET on Hollywood Suite in Canada. Check back afterward for more of my conversation with Aaron Martin and Ian Carpenter and a few of the cast as we talk about the finale.
You can catch the first six episodes on all outlets now. As a reminder, you can catch last season’s Flesh and Blood there, too. The first three seasons of Slasher are still on Netflix. And all our coverage of previous seasons is here. Here’s a sneak peek of “Divine Secrets” and “Vengeance.”
— Slasher (@SlasherSeries) May 9, 2023
Photos and video courtesy of Shudder.