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Slasher: Ripper “Slaughterhouse” and “The Painful Truth” (S5E1&2)

Slasher: Ripper Official Trailer, YouTube, 0:10

Slasher has had quite the tumultuous journey, starting on Chiller, then being picked up by Netflix, and finally finding its true home at Shudder. I’ve really enjoyed the majority of this show since I stumbled upon it when Season 2 was released. Recently, well two years ago, Jerry and I covered Slasher: Flesh and Blood, and it was a grand ole time. Even though a Season 5 was announced in February of last year, I was a bit worried if it would happen or not. Thankfully it’s here, and it’s just as Slasher-y as the previous seasons. Slasher: Ripper takes us to Toronto in the 19th century, a killer stalks the streets, but rather than killing sex workers like Jack the Ripper, The Widow is taking revenge on the rich and powerful (with some exceptions).

One thing that I really like about this show is how there is ample story to drive the horror. Something like AHS really feels like the horror comes first, and the characters come second, whereas Slasher really focuses heavily on how the horror and the characters combine. Sure sometimes the acting in Slasher can feel a bit pulpy and overdramatic, but there is a certain amount of authenticity I feel when watching something like Slasher over AHS. As with all Slasher seasons there is a lot thrown at you right at once, so I will try my best to really lay it all out there based on how it looks thus far.

Episode 1 “Slaughterhouse”

We start on the stone-layered streets of Toronto, a man dressed to the nines walks down the street. With a top hat affixed to his head, and his balance kept by his ornate walking stick, “Jack” (Shaun Benson) peruses the sex workers in this back alley. “Jack” comes upon a young woman named Daisy (Nataliya Rodina), and strikes up a heavily sexual conversation with her. Before “Jack” can take Daisy away, her pimp Horatio (Jefferson Brown) stops “Jack” in his tracks. Horatio takes “Jack’s” walking cane away from him and fiddles with the handle. A long skinny blade is hidden in the handle. Horatio tells “Jack” to, “stay away from my girls and boys, or I’ll carve you.” After “Jack” leaves Horatio tells Daisy to stay away from that man as he’s known for carving women’s faces up.

With a smile on his face, “Jack” walks away. A few streets later “Jack” stumbles across The Widow (uncredited). The Widow is a foreboding figure, clad in a black dress with a black veil covering her face. “Jack” takes the blade from his cane and tries to reveal the identity of the person behind the veil. Ultimately unsuccessful, The Widow spins “Jack” around and somehow gets both of his hands tied up, putting “Jack” in a reverse Jesus on the cross position. With a large pair of shears, The Widow brutally slices and snips “Jack” from his anus all the way up to near the nape of his neck. If there’s one thing to love about Slasher is how they don’t shy away from ultraviolence, giving us an incredibly gory first kill of the season. Copious amounts of blood and sinew splatter onto the brick sidewalk.

The police find a dead body affixed to a horse post
Slasher: Ripper Official Trailer, YouTube, 0:14

Lit by the morning light, Detective Kenneth Rijkers (Gabriel Darku) arrives at “Jack’s” murder scene, where “Jack” is Cannibal Holocaust-ed on a horse post. Rijkers has been freshly promoted to detective, and this murder is the perfect crime for him to solve to be taken seriously by Superintendent Isaac Kashtinksy (Daniel Kash). We quickly find out that “Jack” is actually a man named Alistair Simcoe. We cut over to the house of Regina Simcoe (Clare McConnell), Alistair’s wife. Regina is in the company of her friend Viviana Botticelli (Paula Brancati), who is breaking the news to Regina about the unfortunate demise of her husband. Detective Rijkers arrives at the Simcoe residence, not knowing the beans have already been spilled. Viviana leaves so the Detective can speak with Regina. Of course, Regina wants to believe her husband was down in the Devil’s Elbow to help the downtrodden, and Detective Rijkers doesn’t have the heart to argue against it.

Detective Rijkers then takes his investigation to Terrence Crenshaw’s (Christopher Jacot) business, which seems kind of like a progressive brothel that has cabaret singers. This is when we find out that a magnate owns this business, as well as the town newspaper The Echo Tribune. This man is Basil Garvey (Eric McCormack), more on him later. From here, the detective heads down to the medical theater, where Dr. Melanda Israel (Lisa Berry) is doing a radical nephrectomy on a patient. When the surgery is over, Detective Rijkers has Dr. Israel help him with Alistair’s body, as he believes the killer is sending a message with this murder.

Garvey sent some of his thugs, including Eddie Jacobs (Brandon Oakes), to hassle some of Horatio’s sex workers down in the Devil’s Elbow. Horatio tells the thugs to, kindly, “fuck off,” which might not have been the best move. Over on the “nicer” side of town we see a preacher, Andrew May Jr. (Steve Byers), protesting outside of a theater that is hosting a magic show. Garvey is outside the show, flirting with his betrothed Viviana. Venetia Botticelli (Sabrina Grdevich) and Verdi Botticelli (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) arrive. This is when Garvey meets Verdi for the first time and immediately falls head over heels for her, Viviana picks up on this almost immediately.

This isn’t the first time in the episode meeting the rest of the Botticelli sisters, but I think now is a good time to take a step back, lay out the whole backstory, and analyze these three sisters. The father of these three women has recently passed away. Viviana and Venetia live together in their family mansion, but are having some money troubles. Upon their father’s passing, he requested that Verdi move from Boston and stay with her sisters in Toronto. The hang up here is that Verdi is the child of an illicit affair their father had with a sex worker. Viviana and Venetia basically “evil stepsister” Verdi because they don’t see her as an equal, due to her being a half-sister and the nature of her birth. The two sisters do everything they can to make Verdi’s life a living hell.

Back to the magic show, Garvey escorts Viviana and Verdi into the theater, leaving the older Venetia to walk in alone. It’s fairly clear that Viviana is the mastermind and alpha of the sisters. The show they are at is one for The Great Georges Rondeau (Thom Allison). To start, Allison absolutely chews up the scenery in the best way possible, he is undeniably the most charismatic actor in this season. It will be played up here and there that Georges has mystical power of some sort, but we’ll get to that later.

Detective Rijkers goes back to the morgue, where Alistair’s body is being held. Rijkers notices there is a puncture wound in Alistair’s elbow crease when Dr. Israel comes into the room, asking what’s he doing here so late. After showing the doctor the puncture wound they dig into it, thinking there might be a clue…and there is! Okay, so this is a bit sloppy writing-wise. It’s hard to believe the doctor who did the autopsy on the body just somehow completely missed a puncture wound the size of a penny on Alistair’s arm. Especially when they make a point during the doctor’s introduction of how great a surgeon she is. Inside the puncture wound, they find some sort of cylindrical container, and inside the container a note. The note reads, “Alistair was first, one of many. The other gents will bleed from wounds aplenty. Friends of Margaret form a target.”

After hearing this warning Detective Rijkers immediately goes to the theater and requests to speak with Superintendent Kashtinksy. Garvey sees this and also exits the theater. Rijkers tells him about the note, and Kashtinksy tells him he needs to go talk to Regina this instant. The detective leaves, and Garvey asks what that was all about. Kashtinksy tells him rather cryptically that things are getting dangerous for people, “who were there that night…like us, 12 years ago.” At the Simcoe residence, Detective Rijkers and Regina decide to go take a look inside Alistair’s office, a room she has never once set foot in before. The office is scattered with BDSM gear, dildos, and much more. Regina is taken quite aback by this new information.

The magic show is over now, and the three sisters return to their home. Viviana is seething with anger over the attention Garvey gave Verdi over her, and she makes Verdi strip out of the clothes she let her borrow. As a “corrective” measure, Venetia spanks Verdi because “disease requires medicine.” I must say, Venetia has one hell of an arm on her! Over in the Devil’s Elbow, we find Horatio and Daisy working the streets. Appearing out of the shadows, brass knuckles in hand, is Eddie with another group of goons. Eddie takes the brass knuckles and wails Horatio across the mouth.

Detective Rijkers finds a hidden compartment in one of Alistair’s filing cabinet drawers, and in the compartment is a journal. Newspaper clippings, drawings, and lockets of hair fill the pages of the leatherbound notebook. All of the information is about Toronto’s “Jack the Ripper” and the murder of Margaret Mehar. A quick step back in time, 12 years to be exact, as a then beat cop Kenneth Rijkers comes across the body of a disemboweled sex worker.

We snap back to reality, with Daisy and some other girls absolutely beating the hell out of one of the thugs. After a bit of fighting, Eddie grabs Daisy and throws her into a horse post. Eddie realizes he really screwed up when Daisy raises her head revealing a huge gash in her skull, blood profusely gushing from it. Horatio runs over to her and is completely gutted, emotionally. Over at a cemetery, we see Andrew May Jr. at a gravestone. It’s revealed to be the resting site of Andrew May Sr., whose gravestone is graffitied with the phrase, “rot in hell Ripper.”

The Great Georges stands before his audience
Slasher: Ripper Official Trailer, YouTube, 0:32

Back at the police station Detective Rijkers digs up the file on Margaret Mehar in the exceptionally organized filing cabinet. This made me really think of how just a hundred or so years later, the Toronto police would cause the deaths and sexual assault of many women due to clerical and organizational errors due to the misfiling of evidence for Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Back in the Devil’s Elbow, Horatio cries over the death of Daisy, holding her in the street, then the Widow approaches them. Thinking he’s in the clear, Horatio directs The Widow to take down the rich people in town. This is where the motivation of The Widow doesn’t really make sense, as she mercilessly slits Horatio’s throat, from right to left, until eventually sawing his head completely off.

Out of all the seasons of Slasher I think this is the best first episode. They throw a lot of info at us, a LOT, but it’s fairly easy to digest within the pacing of the episode. Slasher excels with its characters, and this season does a really good job with creating some well-rounded characters with solid motivations. Like I just said, the only motive I can’t wrap my head around is The Widow. We’ll obviously find more info soon, but I have a feeling The Widow may actually be a few different people. I’ll wait to get into that theory until another episode or two, we might have a Ghostface thing going on here.

Episode 2 “The Painful Truth”

“The Painful Truth” starts us 12 years ago, with Officer Rijkers finding Margaret Mehar’s body. The town is crowded around the gallows as Andrew May Sr. (Rob Stewart) is escorted up the stairs, Andrew May Jr. watches on in sadness. Also in the crowd is Enid Jenkins (Jo Vannicola), then writer for The Echo Tribune, now editor. Andrew May Sr.’s final words are about how he is innocent, and it’s heavily implied that Enid fingered the wrong man. Whether or not Enid was wrong, the town is happy Andrew May Sr. is hanging by his neck.

Detective Rijkers arrives at the crime scene where Horatio and Daisy lay dead. Enid tells him word on the street is it was Eddie Jacobs who committed the crime, Detective Rijkers is unsure. Looking for any sense of relief, Regina goes to Georges and tells him Alistair is dead. Hoping he can help, Georges says he can talk with the dead, and hopefully provide some answers to Regina. The only way Georges can do this is by having Regina bring along some other believers. Every scene with Georges is fantastical, Thom Allison is a great actor. Regina decides she’ll invite Viviana and Venetia, but Viviana doesn’t allow Venetia to come because they have a coal delivery coming today, and they’re worried Verdi would try and sleep with the delivery people.

Detective Rijkers comes across the bodies of Horatio and Daisy
Slasher: Ripper Official Trailer, YouTube, 0:27

At the police station, we see that Detective Rijkers has arrested Eddie Jacobs. Trying to save himself, the superintendent tells the detective that he should really stop questioning Eddie and let him go. Detective Rijkers is dead set on his suspicion, but there’s really not too much evidence that can support this. Superintendent Kashtinksy lets Eddie go, and stops him on his way out. Kashtinksy tells Eddie that he needs to basically cool his shit and take this slow. It’s obvious they share some blame in the death of Margaret Mehar.

Andrew May Jr. stops Garvey in the street, telling him he needs to repent for his sins, or The Widow will kill him. This strikes a chord with Garvey, because he then goes right to The Echo Tribune and tells Enid to kill The Widow story for good. Enid is wholeheartedly against this, telling Garvey, “if we kill it, then the real story will come out,” pointing to knowing she fingered the wrong suspect in the Andrew May Sr. case. Garvey does not take kindly to people telling him no, and nearly drowns Enid in a barrel of inky water. While this is happening we find out that Kashtinksy is pulling Detective Rijkers from the “pimp” case. This gets Rijkers riled up, but he’s not afraid of Garvey and will do anything to get to the bottom of this.

Enid goes to Crenshaw’s. They have a conversation about how they can get the better of Garvey, and they need to bring him down. Crenshaw is intrigued, but isn’t too keen on really doing anything about it. Over at Dr. Israel’s, we have a new piece of evidence in Horatio’s murder. It seems, due to how the skin was cut, that Horatio was neck slit from the right side to left, meaning the killer is left-handed. Viviana shows up at Regina’s house where Georges and his assistant Shanika (Mercedes Morris), are waiting. Back to Crenshaw’s, Salomé (Salvatore Antonio) pulls Enid aside. They have the evidence needed to bring Garvey down: photos of him receiving sex from behind.

Time for a séance. It starts out fairly usual for a charlatan, with parlor tricks and talking in foreign languages. The table moves a bit, and it is slowly revealed, to us, that Georges is definitely faking it. That is until, when attempting to talk with Alistair, the table flips up and smashes into the wall. On top of that Regina gets possessed by the spirit of Alistair. It’s pretty clear that Georges has no problem tricking people out of their money for a lie, but Shanika has some trepidation towards all of these falsities. Through the possession, Alistair tells us that The Widow won’t stop until Martha is avenged, and there are six more deaths to come.

Enid gets back to The Echo Tribune, where she finds a note on the door. “Tattle Tails a woman wails, a papers lies for sooth. A living hell, if you don’t tell your evil buried truth.” Garvey arrives at the Botticelli’s while Verdi is cleaning, he doesn’t leave and stays for a few drinks. He even goes so far as to tell Verdi he wants to get engaged to her. Soon after, the other two sisters come home to find them. Garvey leaves Verdi to suffer the wrath of her sisters. Viviana grabs a whip and swings it at Verdi over and over. Honestly the sisters are pretty dumb, they’re just going to whip and spank Verdi right into Garvey’s arms.

Officer Rijkers comes across the body of Margaret Mehar
Slasher: Ripper Official Trailer, YouTube, 0:37

Back at The Tribune, Enid develops the photos from Salomé. They are salacious, to say the least. From the front of the office, a banging starts. Enid goes to find out the source of the sound, only to find it’s just the front door. She locks it and starts to go back to her work when…The Widow appears behind her. Enid says to take what she wants, which ends up with The Widow cutting up a photo of Garvey. Cut to 12 years ago. We find out Enid ran with the news about Andrew May Sr. based on “evidence” given to her by Garvey, and it was definitely false information. Due to Enid following his orders, Garvey makes her editor of the newspaper. This is just part of what The Widow wants Enid to talk about. Since she didn’t, she gets her just desserts. The Widow gets Enid’s hands trapped in the printing press, and slowly winds her up in it. Flattening Enid into an early death.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a printing press death in horror, and it looked absolutely gnarly! We are still getting mixed signals from The Widow, and I’m not sure who The Widow really is going after at this point. There are still tons of questions that need to be answered, but I really like the pacing of this season. The blood and gore still act as an emphasis to the story, rather than overtaking it and making the story pointless. I’m really looking forward to whatever direction this season goes in.

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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