Joston Theney’s “Axeman” is a modern apotheosis to classic slasher cinema resting on contemporary direction. The film pits a group of friends, on a vacation in the mountains, against an imposing killer legend known as The Axeman At Cutter’s Creek. “Axeman” stars Tiffany Shepis, Brinke Stevens, Elissa Dowling, Erin Marie Hogan, Jamie Bernadette, Chantelle Albers, Stephen Eith, Dylan Hobbs, Arielle Brachfeld and Scot Pollard.
The story created to bring the “Axeman” to life is just as described by the director, “a return to old school horror”. The premise is a classic set up that made 80’s horror completely watchable as visceral horror. There is a slight late 90’s “too cool for this” micro-vibe that kicks off the story and echo’s through some of the characters which is a nice, refreshing component. Not sure if that was intended or it just happened incidentally but I enjoyed it. There isn’t a lot of complexity to “Axeman” playing out as far as story layers but the character build, dramatic situations created by dialog ties in some emotional depth to the film.
The cast are all pretty straight acting, recognizable indie horror actors who give convincible performances, some a bit more than others, but all give decent, recognizable performances that bring the characters to life. The film does carry a lot of dialog that adds way more dramatic interactions that I, personally, like to see in my visceral slaughterfests, but since the acting never really falters I still found “Axeman” entertaining and the story held my interest. The direction style, and skill is a worthy vision that is executed amiably. I am sure more intense horror fans may find flaws in depth and continuity of story arch or some other issues with the concept but for me “Axeman” creates a cool, intimidating new killer, fun, thrilling nightmare.
“Axeman” uses some cool, somewhat expected, special effects-sometimes working wonderfully, a few times it fails, but often the kills, and gore are totally dope. I have to give a “tisk tisk” to CGI blood effects in a few scenes and mention a red flag to one kill set up, (I can’t be specific without spoiling it for others but most will notice it in the film), CGI splatter is a nail in my spine that is more common and very cost effective but lacks the excitement and personality that practical fluid provides. That being said the majority of the kills, blood and gore are very much practical and taken serious, completed nicely. The sound effects and music are standard, desired effects that add atmosphere and energy to the film which carries the story and suspense effortlessly. I found it pleasing, and complementary to Theney’s intended vision for “Axeman”.
Overall “Axeman” is a fine modern horror, offering both classic feel and current elements, to a set-up that works. The film gives us a new, slasher of gigantic stature, emphatic stoicism, and brutality. The kills are a mix of classic, and creative, “slice-n-dice” moments demanded in slasher horror. I felt very emotional over one specific death/ character recognition scene in the film, (without spoiling it: one scene had some amazing emotional connectivity that overflowed beyond the screen as a character died and another watched in horror), very compelling and intense. Really “Axeman” minus the few flaws gives us a cool, modern horror film that is soon to be in slasher fans collections. Plus the ending pretty much promises a sequel to come! “Axeman” lends itself to my- “watch it” –horror film list.