This is extra credit. No one requested this review; no throngs of bizarre, wacky horror film fans gathered breathlessly outside my window, asking – nay, demanding – my feedback on Slice, pitchforks a-kimbo. This review exists, prior to any editorial approval, because I am a poindexter who gets really jazzed by talking about horror. Do not let my use of incredibly cool vernacular fool you. I am a big old dork. And so maybe, in a lot of ways, I am the exact target audience for a piece of work as particular and niche as Slice turned out to be. I don’t know if it’s really a horror film. I’m not really sure what it is. Despite relatively generous use of the word “fuck” and a couple of instances of painted bare breasts, it’s almost a family film, closer to the wholesome goofiness of Teen Wolf than to the gallows humor of An American Werewolf in London.
I chose werewolf movies for a reason, guys. Slice is about a town that is divided between living inhabitants and ghosts. This is accepted as easy and obvious; this is reality. But someone keeps murdering pizza delivery people when they deliver to the ghost part of town. The blame is focused on an enigmatic werewolf, played by Chance the Rapper. The film wisely holds back on revealing Dax the werewolf – building a mystique and mystery around him, that if not fully realized by the absurdly gregarious charms of Chance, is at least happily replaced with pure likability. Seriously. You can’t not like that guy. However, if the name that is causing the most attention for this movie is indeed Chance the Rapper, the film really belongs to Zazie Beetz, playing a stone cold bad ass former delivery girl brought out of retirement for one last job: to find the entity who killed her ex-boyfriend. She is legitimately great, more than capable of anchoring a feature. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s mean… not a final girl because she is too rad to ever be stalked by anyone or anything. Paul Scheer is here too, as the owner of what seems to be a genuinely ill-advised pizza parlor, inconveniently located on a gateway to hell. There is also a plucky reporter who serves mostly as a means of providing exposition, and possibly as a form of social commentary on the apathy and complicity of liberal white women in situations of injustice. Because I am pretty confident there is some form of intended satire/social commentary at play here, but it’s muddy as hell. We have an oppressed people (in this case, ghosts); a wrongly accused werewolf/black man, who is taking the fall for the misdeeds of white women. There is naked political ambition and mercenary opportunism. If it seems I’m being intentionally vague here… well, I am. If you intend to see the movie, to go any deeper would absolutely qualify as spoiler territory – Slice is at least sort of a mystery/who dunnit sort of jawn, and though I am still not entirely convinced that all the threads make absolute sense, they are largely connected, and the only way to explain one is to explain everything. Which ruins part of the fun. And Slice is fun! It’s a lean 82 minutes, and they fly by, even if, say, you had two beers before you went into the theater so twice you have to try to discreetly climb over your movie watching partner so you can pee, you know, just hypothetically and not at all based on very specific and entirely true events. It’s funny, as well. It recognizes how fundamentally silly its concept is and then it leans all the way into it.
If you want to get deep, really, truly analytical, the characters are not terribly well realized. The motivations even less so. And again, it is difficult to understand what exactly they are trying to state about oppressed people. The wrongly accused ghosts are sympathetic, and at first you can see them as a representation of communities of color that have served as scapegoats for generations. But then the movie implies that once evidence comes forward to vindicate the ghosts, they become wrathful and vengeful and arbitrarily haunt. Which would be an unfair assessment at very best, dangerously inaccurate and dishonest at worst. Perhaps I’m reading too much into a movie about a pizza parlor on the mouth of hell, but it is difficult not to see the parallel.
On the other hand… Slice is a silly movie. It involves some genuinely bad wolf prosthetics, that I assume were selected and utilized exclusively for how incredibly ridiculous they look. It feels a lot like the movie a clever fan of old, cheesy horror films would make if they were indescribably stoned at 5 in the morning and said “man, what if my pizza was delivered by… a werewolf?” And honestly, I’m here for that. My weed smoking friend, I would like to see that movie. So, I for one, am glad that A24 continues to take chances on strange, not immediately commercially viable, high concept films. Even if Slice never quite manages to reach the dizzying heights you would expect from a movie about a food delivery werewolf helping a pizza ghost fight a coven of witches on a pizza parlor gateway to hell, it is a really fun attempt. And also facilitated me writing that sentence, which I could absolutely not have foreseen. You could easily pass a less enjoyable 82 minutes. And since it went straight to streaming after one night in theaters, it’s hella easy! Just click the little button.