SLASHER Review: “Ill-Gotten Gains”

The second half of Chiller's episodic slasher movie drops a big bombshell.

We're in the back half of Slasher now, with episode five ("Ill-Gotten Gains") offing one of its biggest characters, setting up a pretty huge reveal at the end, and finally getting to the key point in any whodunit slasher: the part where everyone starts accusing everyone else of being the killer! Sarah increasingly finds herself without much of a support system, as she's at odds with Dylan over his increased dedication to his job (i.e. covering the deaths of people connected to her), and suspecting that Tom was lying when he said he wasn't in contact with anyone that could be the killer. And then she tells Cam that she thinks his dad is involved, so he fires back with a (pretty sound, admittedly) theory that she is the killer, and then offers one for Dylan as well. Her only real confidant is Robin, who doesn't seem too broken up about his husband anymore - even with the show's limited series nature and scripts all coming from one person, he's not immune from that great TV trope where someone can only grieve about a loved one for one episode before forgetting about them altogether.

Sarah splits the episode's screentime pretty equally with Dylan, the latter perhaps even inching into majority territory. With Lisa Ann Follows arranging for him and Allison (the publisher of their newspaper) to give a TV interview, we get a lot (too much, I think) of their rivalry, which might be a little more exciting if Envy hadn't already been taken care of on the Executioner's list of deadly sins. It's pretty obvious from the start that Allison will be taken out for the sin of greed (especially when she reveals she's used shady practices to sell papers in the past), making the Dylan stuff less compelling than it might have been two episodes ago when envy was still up for grabs. On that note, I thought June was being offed for "lust" due to her affair with Trent, but since she was with him when they opted not to help Ariel, she was done in for sloth as well (and on that note, she is very much dead, despite the ambiguity built into last week's closing scene).

See, Allison is very camera shy during their first interview, while Dylan is a natural and does all of the talking since Allison keeps clamming up. This gets under her skin, especially when Lisa suggests that Dylan do the next interview solo, but he has his boss' back and all but demands she do the second interview with him, same as before. This time she finds her strength and surprises everyone by challenging the Executioner to an interview... and now suddenly she's the star (per Lisa), not Dylan (love the bit where Lisa nudges him aside at the bar so she can have a toast with Allison). Now Dylan's the jealous one, and realizes very quickly that Allison isn't up for the same sort of solidarity that he extended to her. It's at this point the show starts dipping into "people looking sinister" mode, with Dylan walking away from the pair to watch them from afar with an evil look on his face - which to be fair has some justification, but will still seem very silly on a second viewing unless he really does turn out to be the killer.

Speaking of our masked murderer, he does indeed grant Allison an interview (she's tied to a chair with cameras all around, protecting them both in a way - she can't try to unmask him, and his every move is being filmed), so we get a somewhat goofy scene of him walking in circles around her, talking about sins and even throwing a "You and I, we're not so different" speech. He also explains away the would-be plot hole of a guy killing people according to the Deadly Sins - if he's so biblical, why is he ignoring the Sixth Commandment? As he explains, "Thou shall not kill" is the cliff's notes version - it's "Thou shall not kill the innocent", so he's free and clear since these people are all guilty. As an astute slasher fan I've seen these guys offer some pretty goofy justifications for their occasionally hypocritical actions, so I have to admit - he's got himself covered pretty well there.

One thing I wish the show would do away with is the random people finding our victims' bodies. It was fine in the second episode's cold open (which wasn't a corpse after all, but you know what I mean), but after a retread of that scene to open this episode (June is found by a lesbian couple out for a stroll) we also get a really obnoxious asshole at a fast food joint finding Allison's ear (I think?) in his food, resulting in the discovery of her head in one of the fryers. Why is The Executioner going to all this trouble to kill specific people and leaving it up to chance if anyone ever finds them? Why is he risking exposure by going into a place of business (one surely equipped with security cameras) to hide a body? We're told boiling someone is the punishment for greed, but it seems he could have done that anywhere - including places a bit more directly tied to our heroes. The randomness is fine in the early episodes, because for all we know they could be major characters being introduced (Lisa is obviously a big part and she wasn't even introduced until last week's episode), but now it feels unnecessary and even somewhat counterproductive - the time has come to start narrowing the focus, not expanding it.

But such diversions do a fine job of distracting us away from the episode's big reveal (and what saves it; it's kind of an over-talky, wheel-spinning episode), which is that Ariel is indeed alive... and being kept by Chief Vaughn in a locked room at his house. Even creepier/sadder, she's got their child with them, and we can assume a. they don't get to go outside much and b. she probably wasn't a willing participant in that conception, if the look on her face is any indication. Of course, this would seemingly cancel out Vaughn as a suspect, because if he's got that to worry about I can't imagine he'd have the time to be offing townsfolk (plus we saw him investigate June's house on his own, which would be a really sloppy move on the writer's part if he was revealed to be the killer later), but with such a meaty twist I can forgive the slight annoyance of having one less suspect with three hours to go. We also find out what Cam's priest father likes to do in his spare time, which offers one of the series' few big laugh moments while also making Cam the increasingly likely culprit (as with Vaughn, that'd just be one secret too many for the man). But it can't be that simple, right?

And whatever happened to that creepy guy who bought paintings from Sarah, anyway? If he turns out to be the killer I'm gonna be really annoyed unless he re-enters the picture with next week's episode. See you then...


This post is sponsored by Chiller. The new original series Slasher airs Friday nights at 9pm ET on ChillerTV.