It’s understandable if you’ve dismissed the Slasher horror anthology series as simply a gore-fest jam-packed with characters ripe for picking off. But you’d be totally wrong. Though the genre is bursting with projects like that, Slasher isn’t just about the scare and the gore; Aaron Martin has created intricate storylines and interesting, believable characters that you feel badly for as they’re being dispatched in horrible, awful ways.
Just in time for Halloween, the sophomore season Slasher: Guilty Party drops on Netflix in its entirety on Tuesday, with a some returning faces to augment newbies assembled for slaughter. Where Season 1 of Slasher followed murders committed in a small-town, Guilty Party boasts the classic horror movie setting: a summer camp. It’s there that a group of former summer camp counsellors who—while attempting to cover up a crime they committed years before—become the target of a murder spree. Is it revenge, or happenstance?
Martin has assembled an impressive all-Canadian cast for Season 2, including Degrassi‘s Melinda Shankar as Talvinder, Being Erica‘s Paula Brancati as Dawn, Alias Grace‘s Rebecca Liddiard as Andi, The Strain‘s Jim Watson as Noah, Heartland‘s Kaitlyn Leeb as Susan and Lost & Found’s Music Studios‘ Lovell Adams-Gray as Peter; the sextet portray the counsellors. The ensemble is rounded out with Season 1 performers Joanne Vannicola, Christopher Jacot and Jefferson Brown in new roles alongside Leslie Hope, Paulino Nunes, Ty Olsson, Sebastian Piggott and Madison Cheetatow.
Though there are plenty of scares, Guilty Party does have some sweet moments; one we watched during filming at a Scouts Canada camp just outside Orangeville, Ont., boasted Shankar’s Talvinder receiving a necklace from Brancati’s Dawn.
“It was a bonding scene between the two,” Shankar says. “Tal is being gifted a nice necklace, but of course whenever there is a nice, sweet moment there is always something to contrast that.”
For Brancati, who had worked with Martin on Being Erica, signing on to Slasher: Guilty Party was a no-brainer.
“Dawn is a character that I don’t always get to play,” Brancati says. “On the outside, she’s wealthy, privileged, with a crusty exterior and a bit bitchy at times. She comes from a divorced home and has a lot of vulnerabilities that she’s masking with her sarcastic humour. She definitely has no filter.” Brancati says none of the characters is an archetype; they’re layered and very flawed.
“Aaron is unafraid of being unfiltered,” Brancati says of her showrunner. “He’s got a really dark mind and isn’t afraid to push the envelope.” Brancati, who is new to acting in the genre, admits she’s had nightmares after reflecting on the scenes she and her co-stars have filmed after a day of production. The result? It’s not hard to play scared.
Brancati divulges a bit more of the plot of Guilty Party, explaining the counsellors return to the camp, which has since become a commune, creating conflict between the visitors and those who now call the place home. Weather also adds to the drama: a massive winter storm ensures everyone is kept in tight quarters and unable to escape.
“There is a lot of gore and a lot of horror, certainly, but the characters are really textured and the relationships are really interesting and complicated and messy,” Brancati says. “Character-driven stories are interesting TV to me.”
Slasher: Guilty Party‘s full season of eight episodes arrive Tuesday, Oct. 17, on Netflix.
Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.