Color, 2013, 80m.
Directed by Jared Masters
Starring Danika Galindo, Julia Faye West, Art Roberts, Dawna Lee Heising, Anthony Del Negro, Cosondra Sjostrom, Jade Bryce, Marylyn Brooks
Frolic Pictures (On Demand) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

SlinkIn the quiet town of Wickenhaven, the only industry of note is Virgin Leathers, a designer handbag manufacturer. SlinkBlonde, baby-voiced Joan (Heising) designs the purses and sells them to customers with pitches about how eight year old kids are the perfect age for her custom products, which are made from elements like baby ostriches and something involving animal fetuses called "slink." As it turns out during the opening scene, Joan also isn't above some cold-blooded murder along with her husband, Dale (Roberts), who runs the local tanning salon and uses the female customers' flesh as raw material for their custom goods. Meanwhile Kayla (Galindo) and her little sister, Courtney (Brooks), come to visit when their uncle dies, only to have them tangling with their odd Aunt May (West), who has her own links to the bloody secret business afoot.

Though it bears some superficial resemblance to your average nouveau grindhouse horror movie with trappings like a creepy basement and grisly skinning scenes, Slink jumps out from the rest of the pack thanks to its unexpected theme of the commercial exploitation of women. The macabre purses are the most obvious factor, of course, coupled with an exaggerated look emphasizing pop culture kitsch out of a little girl's fever dream. The presence of two little girls whose roles become more prominent as the story goes along also offer a unique touch, and even the heavy amounts of nudity are handled in a coldly clinical fashion showing how the female form goes from a casually naked presence in the tanning bed to a commodified underground flesh supply. Slink

The character of Joan is especially disturbing in this respect as she peddles superficial accessories and preys on her customers; the film might have worked even Slinkbetter had she been placed front and center, as the business with Dale and his cohort trapping new victims on the slab and stalking them is more routine by comparison. Given the obvious low budget and consumer grade digital videography, this isn't a perfect film by any means (including a weirdly abrupt resolution), but it's a creative and sometimes surprisingly potent plunge into modern consumer horror with a great, pounding electronic score that heavily evokes Claudio Simonetti in his better Dario Argento days. (Given the thematic similarity here to Argento's "Pelts," they may not be accidental.)

Director Jared Masters (who also helmed titles like 8 Reels of Sewage and Hollywood a Go Go) knows his way around the exploitation field, obviously, and a few familiar faces from his past films turn up here, too (including a very funny QVC parody halfway into the film that could've easily been expanded into more of a running gag). Though it doesn't have an official DVD release yet from Frolic Pictures like those two previous titles, this one has been ramped out widely on demand through venues like Amazon and iTunes. The image quality is comparable to most recent indie films shot on low budgets; though it doesn't look anything like film, detail is fine and colors are very saturated with some of the more unusual camerawork coming through very effectively. Give this one a try; there's a lot more going on under the surface than you might expect.

Reviewed on June 11, 2013.