It’s a job and it gives him a modest income, but that’s about the best that can be said about it, four or five days a week at a slaughterhouse in rural Tasmania, Nathan Hopper on parole and being shown the ropes by Box who has worked there since he was fifteen years old, more than thirty years of cows and pigs reduced to meat, all the bits that ain’t pretty thrown in the casserole bucket.
A lonely man without friends or family, Box takes Nathan under his wing, but as the new start he is bullied by the other workers; thinking they are just going to scare him, perhaps rough him up a bit, Nathan goes with Box to Blake’s house on a late night call, but blood and bone part of his life and all animals the same, Box’s intention was always to kill Blake.
Nathan a witness and accomplice with a criminal record, already in a lose/lose situation, he falls too easily into Box’s ambitions, bemoaning the Australian government’s control on firearms which makes it difficult for him to achieve his dream of a notorious killing spree, instead increasing his tally slowly through incremental elimination and disposal, Nathan now the audience he has craved.
Directed by Sam Curtain from a script co-written with Benjamin Clarke, while far from high art The Slaughterhouse Killer is more complex than the low-budget Ozploitation gore horror movie it presents itself as, paralleling the sanctioned mass murder of animals and the environment which allows that to exist and Box’s wider indifference to the lives of others, a true sociopath.
Contrasting faces of Australia, Box (Craig Ingham) is an irredeemable monster, as ugly as Nathan (James Mason) is beautiful, yet Nathan allows himself to be led with only token resistance, prompting the question: why is it easier to despise Box without reservation yet look for a reason to seek a glimmer of sympathy in Nathan when his complicity has served a death sentence to innocents?
The Slaughterhouse Killer making no attempt glamorise the endemic violence, to make it cool or stylish, the only difference between the two men is that Box has nothing to lose while Nathan might have had a future with his girlfriend Tracey (Kristen Condon), patient despite her belief that Box is a bad influence with no realisation how deeply she has underestimated the relationship, her trust a reminder of how easily the skin of civilisation can be sliced open by a butcher’s knife.