Ever since the success of Halloween, slashers have remained a staple of the horror genre. After reaching their peak in the 80’s, and decline in the 90’s, it became quite clear that this subgenre would have to adapt to stay relevant.
The simple fact is that many of the tropes that fans had come to love about slashers had become tired and worn out. So the only way that slashers could regain the respect and adoration of audiences was to find ways to subvert these tropes in creative ways.
All of the following films found ways to deconstruct the subgenre, some in very meta ways. But which one satirizes the slasher best? That’s what we’re going to find out!
Spoilers Ahead for Each Movie – You’ve Been Warned!!!
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
This is a great mockumentary that’s both a tribute to slasher movies, while also deconstructing them. It answers the questions we’ve always wondered about what it’s like from the killer’s perspective.
We see the titular Leslie Vernon spend weeks of preparation for the big night, which is played out to comedic effect here, but Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers clearly must be doing the same things in their prep time as well!
Through the lens of the “documentary” the film allows itself to explore tropes and philosophies as the characters discuss them in interviews. It then drops the documentary style and goes full slasher for the third act, which is admittedly fun to see.
But, in some ways, it feels like the film didn’t know how to tell that ending in its own style, and therefor had to abandon it.
Cabin in the Woods
This movie is not only a meta deconstruction of slashers, but of horror in general. Here we see how the tropes and clichés are merely part of a ritual that must take place to prevent ancient Lovecraftian gods from returning and destroying the Earth.
Aside from the myriad of horror references, which is so much fun for fans to spot, it does a great job of taking diverse characters and forcing them to fit the mold of archetypes we see in every movie, thus critiquing the fact that slashers always seem to do this.
The Final Girls
This awesome movie blends the slasher subgenre, fantasy, and fandom in general. We all love horror films, and how many of us wish we could enter one (so long as we were guaranteed to live)?
It’s fun to see the “real world” characters who are fully aware of the slasher tropes interacting with the “fictional” characters who made of said tropes.
The only thing that really holds it back is its PG-13 rating, which holds it back in the gore department, which is a problem for some. But it’s a fun idea that pays homage to Friday the 13th, The Burning, and so many more!
It’s part mockumentary as we follow a killer taking on an “apprentice” and part self-help infomercial, as the killer gives a seminar on how killing people changed his life for the better.
But he’s just so charming that you can’t help but root for him. It feels like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but if it were a dark comedy rather than disturbing horror. It’s probably the least well-known movie on this list, but it’s definitely worth checking out!
It was one of the first slashers where the characters are very familiar with horror clichés and it toys with that idea.
The killers are motivated by their obsession with movies, and Sidney manages to subvert those clichés to be one of the strongest final girls in horror history! All the while, it never relies on having to break the fourth wall in its meta analysis.
It creatively flips the stereotype where the backwoods rednecks are sweet and caring, and the well-dressed college student winds up being the psychopath.
That said, it’s technically not a slasher movie, it just appears to be one from the point of view of the college students. But it’s still wildly entertaining!
In addition to being the first time that Freddy was scary since the original, it deals with the demon crossing over from cinema and into the real thus, thus making a statement about how film and media effects society.
It’s creative, clever, and creepy, but Craven definitely perfected his meta method two years later.
Final Verdict – Scream
As much fun as Behind the Mask and Cabin in the Woods are, they change their styles in the third act, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it breaks away from the slasher mold. How to be a Serial Killer and Tucker & Dale technically aren’t even slashers.
And as previously mentioned, Wes Craven perfected his style from New Nightmare to Scream. Scream pulls off the nearly impossible task of being funny and witty with tis meta humor, but also being a legitimately creepy and disturbing horror film.
It never has to break the fourth wall, or shift its tone at any point. It’s just creepy, clever, and consistent throughout!
Which one of these do you think best satirizes slasher films? Are there any that we forgot? Let us know in the comments!