The horror comedy Slice has so many amusing, eyebrow-raising elements that at the very least it entertains as a curiosity.
Kingfisher, the town where the story is set, includes 40,000 ghosts among its population, who are required to live in their own, separate neighborhood. When a series of murders are committed—targeting the delivery staff of a local pizza place—the ghosts become the main suspects. Oh, and did I mention that Slice also features Chance the Rapper as a werewolf who used to deliver Chinese food?
Written and directed by Austin Vesely, who has helmed a couple of Chance’s music videos, Slice has an endearing, go-for-broke vibe that’s perhaps best captured by the goofy, animated opening credits, which partly resemble 1980s-era Garbage Pail Kids trading cards. (The John Carpenter-esque synth score, by Nathan Matthew David and Ludwig Goransson, also recalls that era.) There is some political bite to the story, as well. We learn the town’s original ghosts were victims of a massacre at an old sanitarium, which has since been demolished to make way for strip-mall businesses like the pizza place. And so their current plight in Kingfisher makes these spirits stand-ins for both displaced Native-Americans and African-Americans who are victims of redlining—forced by discriminatory loan practices to live in undesirable neighborhoods.
So there’s a lot of smart stuff at play here; unfortunately, it doesn’t convincingly come together in execution. Slice mostly vacillates between two awkward modes: sitcom broadness and music-video posturing. As a coherent narrative, it barely holds together. And since the movie seems to have decided it doesn’t want to be scary (even though the best horror comedies, like Shaun of the Dead, are occasionally terrifying), the fact that the jokes are very hit or miss is a real problem. For every good gag—and I loved the way Joe (Lakin Valdez), a ghost working at the pizza place, regularly interrupts casual conversations with doom-laden pronouncements that are accompanied by a boom on the soundtrack— there’s an awful lot of awkward comic banter.
The cast does what they can, especially Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz. She’s always arresting, even if her character makes no sense. (She’s the girlfriend of the first murder victim who maybe used to work at the same pizza place and becomes a vengeful ghost even though she didn’t really love him?) As for Chance (credited as Chance Bennett), Slice doesn’t at all capture what makes him special. But by letting him buzz around on a motor scooter and sport some (pretty shaky) werewolf makeup—“Godspeed, you Chinese food werewolf,” one character says—the movie at least shows why he’s so fun.