Slotherhouse certainly has an attention-getting hook. It’s more or less a garden variety slasher flick, except that instead of a mask-wearing psycho, the killer is a sloth. Funny, right? How could the notoriously slow-moving animals possibly be fast enough to murder someone? The potential is there for an awesomely crazy send-up of slashers. Oddly, the problem with the movie is that it’s not crazy enough.

Emily Young (Lisa Ambalavanar) is a member of a college sorority. She yearns to be as popular as – but less snooty than – the group’s president, Brianna (Sydney Craven). A chance encounter with an exotic animal dealer leads to the revelation that if she buys his sloth, it can be positioned as the sorority’s cute new mascot. Certainly, she’ll be celebrated for such a clever idea. The sloth, dubbed Alpha, becomes unbalanced and begins slaying the sisters one by one.

There is undeniably a certain amount of amusement in seeing a sloth stalking its mostly vacuous victims. The mere premise is silly enough to earn an occasional chuckle. Slotherhouse never figures out what kind of silliness it wants to focus on, though. At times, it spoofs stuff like the Friday the 13th and Halloween series, with Alpha replacing Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. Other times, it revels in Naked Gun-style absurdity, as when the sloth learns how to use the internet or abruptly starts driving a car. A concept as intentionally ridiculous as this needs to commit to a tone. Director Matthew Goodhue takes the comedy all over the map, making the movie feel inconsistent.

The cleverness of a murderous sloth loses some of its appeal in the third act, too, as the story devolves into a series of repetitive slayings. Slotherhouse disappointingly keeps the violence at a PG-13 level. If ever a film needed to embrace an R rating, it’s this one. Keeping Alpha’s attacks largely bloodless robs the premise of its most inherently humorous trait. Seeing a sloth kill people in gruesome, gory ways would be hilarious. The deaths here are generally too tame to be memorable.

Slotherhouse has decent sloth effects, and Lisa Ambalavanar makes Emily an appealing heroine. This is the sort of movie that possesses an undeniable curiosity factor. But that’s the only level on which it works. The film stops short of being the insane, over-the-top joyride it clearly wants to be.

out of four

Slotherhouse is rated PG-13 for violence, bloody images, and language. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.