Saturday, February 22, 2020

Slayer: The Repentless Killogy

Note: This review contains spoilers for Slayer: The Repentless Killogy.

As Slayer wrapped up their final tour, they released The Repentless Killogy, a movie that combined an original short film with a concert film showing their full August 5, 2017 performance at the Los Angeles Forum in Inglewood, CA. As I was actually at the show they chose to immortalize, which also featured Behemoth and Lamb of God as supporting acts, I was excited at the idea of owning a version that I could watch/listen to whenever I wanted. During our annual movie day, the day after Christmas, we watched the short film preceding the actual concert and found ourselves disappointed in more ways than one.

A man named Wyatt (Jason Trost) seeks revenge on his former Neo-Nazi gang, “The Hand Brotherhood”, for murdering his lover, Regina (Ashley L. Osborne), in front of him.

It’s not often that my section on a film premise is a single sentence, but here we are. There honestly isn’t much to the story and the plot is largely unintelligible. This is because it’s actually three Repentless music videos, specifically for “Repentless”, “You Against You” and “Pride in Prejudice”, slapped together with only time cards to connect them. While the songs themselves are absolute bangers, they don’t leave much room for actual dialogue until the final stretch of the movie, where Wyatt goes on a murderous rampage as he hunts down a man named Luther (Micah Fitzgerald), who we only learn exists at that point in the film, for no discernable reason. The closest one can figure is that he has something to do with Regina’s death, but this is never clearly explained.

My biggest complaint, however, is that the finale betrays basic storytelling. Even though we follow Wyatt throughout a majority of the short film, he is not the one to ultimately finish Luther off. That honor instead goes to a woman named D (Jessica Pimentel), who was never hinted at beforehand. The payoff would at least be better if Wyatt was the one to finish his own story.

As this is a Slayer project, it seems only fitting that they’re in the film, as the music video segments have them performing in various environments while the story advances around them. However, when Wyatt starts searching for Luther, their integration feels a bit silly. During a torturous interrogation, Wyatt receives a flyer for Slayer’s performance at the Forum, where his target is, after which the film decides to more or less stop cold and showcase the band’s complete performance of “Angel of Death” from the show while D and Luther make their way through the crowd. Luther’s motivation also seems a bit shaky, as he appears to be trying to kill the band for reasons that go completely unexplained, as if this aspect of the film was shoehorned in.

The way the film is shot has an appropriate grittiness that captures the dark tone of the story and features plenty of violence. However, while it seems appropriate to have some gore, it does get a bit excessive. Bodies are mutilated, shot and stabbed in numerous ways and happen with such frequency that it gets increasingly difficult to watch. Eventually, it feels like violence and gore for the sake of having it, even when it seems to have already served its purpose.

The acting is also not one of the film’s strong suits. None of the actors are very recognizable, save for Danny Trejo, who seems to be playing a typical Danny Trejo role, and all give B-movie level performances that don’t really stand out from one another. Interestingly, however, The Lonely Island member Jorma Taccone appears as an extra.

I should mention here that there is a graphic novel, Slayer: Repentless, originally released as a three-issue comic book, based on the story depicted in the music videos. Now, I know what you’re wondering: is the graphic novel version any better? Actually, yes. Wyatt’s motivation is changed from something more nebulous to something more personal. He’s out to kill his brother Adrian, who remained a Neo-Nazi and tried to kill Wyatt for being a “race traitor” by falling in love with a black woman. It does get somewhat silly, however, as Slayer is still worked into the story, directly helping Wyatt, and Slayer lyrics are worked into the dialogue.

Honestly, just read this instead.

Slayer’s performance at the Los Angeles Forum is absolutely fantastic and worth reliving, but the short film not so much. The nonsensical writing, B-movie tier acting and over-the-top gore make it hard to recommend except for Slayer fans who don’t mind excessive violence. If you’re in it for the concert, then just skip the short film. If you’re in it for the short film, I’d suggest reading Slayer: Repentless instead.

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