Firstly I would just like to say thankyou to Cameron McCasland (writer and director) of the slasher film “The Lashman”. Thanks for sending me an online screener to the film prior to its official release. I remember reading a synopsis and watching the first trailer for this film way back in 2010/2011 and the nothing. The film came to a halt in months of post production and I believe Cameron was going through some personal/family issues at the time so the film was put on hold until now. I was excited to watch and review the film because like I said it’s been a long time coming!
The Lashman is a slasher film about a group of friends who decide to head out to a secluded cabin in the woods for a final relaxing weekend before the new year of school/college begins. While stopped off at a local gas station they are warned by a crazy vagrant about “The Lashman” a killer that resides in the woods and carries a bullwhip. It’s not long after the group arrive that things start to escalate and they quickly discover the Lashman may not just be a legend after all. The group of kids consists of Billy and Daniel (played by David Vaughn and Jeremy Jones) who are good college friends. Stacy and Jan (Stacey Dixon and Kaylee Williams) play the respective relationship interests of Billy and Daniel. Rounding out the group (pardon the pun haha) is Big Bobby (played by YouTube personality and Indie film actor Shawn C Phillips) It was great to see Shawn in this one! I’m a fan of most of his work.
So that’s a little about The Lashman. It’s not the most original idea ever but it makes for a fun slasher flick none the less. I don’t know about the budget for this film but I would guess around $5,000-$10,000 mark but that’s just an estimation. Anyone who is interested in actual figures would have to ask Cameron themselves.
Let’s talk about some of the good stuff from this low-budget indie Slasher. I enjoyed the suspenseful sound effects which change several times throughout the film, along with a really cool catchy original theme song during the opening credits. Some of the camera work in the opening segment of the film was very well done as was the pretty consistent audio levels throughout most of the film. I have a feeling that a few lines of dialogue may have been recorded in a studio at a later date though because some of the editing was a little choppy here and there.
I think the back story about The Lashman was quiet fun as well. Obviously you have the typical setup where the group of kids sit around a fire (which of course happens in every slasher ever!) and after one to many alcoholic beverages someone decides to rehash the urban legend about whatever this weeks killer is…. blah blah any who it was a fun introduction and it’s what we as fans of the genre expect.
The Lashman’s strongest aspect by far is the performances. Particularly from Shawn C Phillips and David Vaughn, I think those two are the standouts. A film of this nature and this budget normally consists of really poorly delivered dialogue and or wooden performances and emotions but not here. Kaylee Williams deserves and honorable mention too. This film has all the cliché characters like the jock/the nerd etc and I didn’t care much for the character of Daniel but Jeremy played it how it was written, you can’t do much more. Stacey is gorgeous and for the most part is above average in a lot of the scenes but she struggles in a few of the more emotional and intense moments but overall this is one of the better acted films in the genre.
Unfortunately the bad cannot be ignored in The Lashman. I hadn’t read any of the other critics reviews for the film before watching it myself most of which I see now are good, so that’s good for Cameron. I like to try to be impartial and not have other people’s opinions trying to alter mine. I think I’m generally fair but I demand a lot regardless of budget or experience because of my extreme love for all things film.
The camera work started out solid for the first 5-10 minutes but after that it’s all down hill. I think the issue was with the focus on zooming in and out. When it’s not done well you get the shaky camera syndrome happening. Even the still stationery shots didn’t seem to work the camera seem to constantly be moving with no smooth panning or steadicam shots, it was very disappointing. The editing and transitioning from scene to scene was abrupt as well and the lighting team struggled with nearly all of the night-time scenes (which is 60 percent of the film).
I can forgive the cliché’s and unoriginal aspects of the story because after all, everything has been done in the horror genre. However, I didn’t buy Bobby and Stacy as brother and sister at all. For one, Stacy has a really thick southern accent and Bobby just speaks like your average Californian, (not sure what was happening there). So we got that issue, along with the fact the two couldn’t look more opposite… but hey it’s just a film it’s not the end of the world.
All of the small things aside The Lashman’s biggest problem is that it’s a slasher that fails to slash and I just can’t except that. It’s the fundamental aspect of the Horror/Slasher genre and you have to get it right. At just 73 minutes from beginning to credits this lacks in solid pacing, number of action sequences and the body count. I had a bad feeling right from the very uneventful, dull double murder scene in the beginning of the film that this one was going to miss the mark. Everyone knows you start your slasher off with a really cool and subtle death which of course sets up the carnage and mayhem that you see in the second and third acts of the film. The introduction here was just very very basic. I was expecting some cool prosthetic pieces and plenty of blood and guts throughout but got nothing. Instead what you get is a lot of running and screaming (from what? I don’t know) because Lashman himself doesn’t show up until the movie is nearly over. Lots of douchebagery dialogue which does nothing to progress the story coupled with the melodramatic teen issues that divide our group and it’s all just a bit average.
I really wanted to like The Lashman, the elements to making a successful slasher were all there but the stars have to align and on this one they just didn’t. It’s not about the budget because I’ve seen some great micro-budget films like Chris LaMartina’s “Presidents Day” and Sonny Laguna’s “Blood Runs Cold” (both made for under $5,000). I still commend Cameron on his directing and the accomplishment of making a full length feature film, I don’t think that I could do it! I wish I had more positive things to say about the film but just remember with each attempt one gains more experience and can navigate the waters better on the next attempt. I look forward to seeing what Cameron comes up with next time, thanks again mate!
My rating for “The Lashman” is 4/10