There will be a new killer on the loose when the new psychological thriller Slasher premieres. Chiller’s first original scripted series will debut on Friday, March 9 at 9 p.m. with a double-episode in the US and on Friday, April 1 at 9 p.m. on Super Channel in Canada and introduce audiences to The Executioner. Much like slasher films of the past such as Halloween and Friday the 13th, this eight episode series will follow Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath), a young woman who returns to the town where her parents were brutally murdered, only to find herself as the centerpiece in a series of horrifying copycat murders done by The Executioner.
Sarah will find herself questioning everything and everyone around her, including her husband (Brandon Jay McLaren, Graceland), grandmother Brenda (Wendy Crewson, Saving Hope) and even the town police. “The challenge with this kind of film is always to have enough suspects, but also make them believable suspects and also at the same time not give away who the killer is,” says series creator and showrunner Aaron Martin. That challenge is just part of what helps make Slasher into much more of a classic murder mystery story than your typical slasher film.
Martin, whose resume includes writing and producing on such shows as Being Erica, Saving Hope, Degrassi and Killjoys, spoke exclusively with The TV Junkies about the influences he used for Slasher, jokes about the plethora of Canadian talent that makes up the cast and tells us why even people who aren’t typical horror fans should still check out the series.
The TV Junkies: You’ve worked on Degrassi, Being Erica and Saving Hope. What made you want to go in a bit of a different direction and write a horror series?
Aaron Martin: I had just finished the first season of Saving Hope and done a lot of relationship shows and dramedies–not that I don’t like doing them, because I do and there’s a lot of soap elements to Slasher–but I wrote this on spec because I wanted to show my agents that I could do something different.
TTVJ: It’s evident that there are some nods to older horror movies. What were your favorite horror movies and what influences are you using here?
AM: Halloween was a huge one obviously, just because that’s the granddaddy of all slasher films. When I was writing it I was also inspired as much by Agatha Christie as I was slasher films. We’ve got eight episodes and you’ve got a bunch of people who can be the murderer and people dying. In a lot of slasher movies you know who the killer is, you know who the monsters are, there’s no mystery who they are. We have The Executioner so you have an embodiment of the killer but you don’t know who that person is. I was trying to do a hybrid of an Agatha Christie novel and the slasher movies that I grew up with. It Follows was also a visual cue for us.
TTVJ: There does seem to be more and more horror TV shows as of late. Did you guys look to any series in particular and take anything away from the Screams, Scream Queens and The Walking Deads of the world?
AM: I purposely avoided watching both Scream and Scream Queens because I didn’t want to be influenced by them and make sure Slasher was it’s own thing. I would say the show, in terms of format, that I was most influenced by is American Horror Story because every year is going to be its own story and an anthology with a beginning, middle and end like they do. In an ideal world I then bring back some of the same actors like they do.
TTVJ: It’s funny you should say that because I actually joked this should be Canadian Horror Story because of all the Canadian actors in the cast.
AM: That’s actually Degrassi and all those horrible things that happen to the kids. [laughs]
TTVJ: So with such a great Canadian cast, how did Irish actress Katie McGrath sneak in there as the lead?
AM: Sarah needed to be tough as nails, and yet also vulnerable, which Katie was able to give us in spades. Sarah Bennett is really a “Nancy Drew” more than she is your classic “Final Girl”, and we needed to believe that she’d have the courage and the strength to go toe-to-toe with a serial killer, slicing up her hometown. Katie is a wonderful actor, and made Sarah into a very complicated lead for the series.
TTVJ: You’ve written on some series with some great female characters such as Being Erica, Saving Hope and Killjoys. How does Sarah Bennett fit into that mix?
AM: I think Sarah may be more wounded than any of those characters because she was literally ripped out of her parent’s womb. [laughs] Dutch [Killjoys] has a lot of darkness in her past so Sarah is more in the Dutch world than the Erica world.
TTVJ: What about the people who say “horror movies and series aren’t really my jam.” What can they take away from a series like Slasher?
AM: I want the show to be duly appealing for people that like slasher movies and for people who like a murder mystery like Broadchurch. Obviously every episode is going to have a horrible kill or two–and they are going to be graphic and disgusting–but the majority of the show is the mystery of Sarah Bennett and the mystery of who is killing people. Everybody in the town also has secrets and mysteries that we uncover throughout the whole season. So if you like just basic murder mysteries without the gore you’ll get 90% of that.
Are you excited to check out Slasher? Sound off in the comments below!
Slasher will premiere Friday, March 4 at 9 p.m. ET on Chiller in the US and Friday, April 1 at 9 p.m. ET on Super Channel in Canada.
Managing Editor Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.