As the title suggests, “Slotherhouse” is about a sloth that terrorizes a sorority. The fake house is cleverly called Sigma Lambda Theta, which essentially spells … sloth. And the sloth is basically a slow-moving but surprisingly resourceful version of Chucky.
Why is there a sloth at the sorority house, you may be wondering? Well, college senior Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar) dreams of becoming Sigma Lambda Theta’s president, just as her late mother was. But she lacks the popularity and social media clout to unseat reigning queen bee Brianna (Sydney Craven), an intentionally exaggerated version of every sorority mean girl you’ve ever seen. A chance meeting at the mall with a stranger who happens to know a lot about exotic pets leads to Emily adopting what she thinks is a three-toed sweetie. She didn’t see the dramatic prelude we saw, however, in which the sloth slashed its way through a crocodile that dared to prey on it in the Panamanian rain forest.
In this more domesticated setting, the gently cooing creature – whom the girls name Alpha – becomes the house mascot. She also catapults Emily to instant Internet stardom and makes Sigma Lambda Theta the place to be. (Again, the Serbian-set production makes lots of tweaks to the way sorority rush actually works, but that’s nitpicking. Is it wrong to demand total realism in a homicidal sloth movie?) But in between making herself comfortable in increasingly outrageous scenarios —from playing dodgeball to lounging with a cocktail—Alpha racks up an impressive body count. The fact that no one seems to notice where these sorority sisters have gone beyond a tossed-off, “Have you seen so-and-so lately?” is part of the winking humor.
Goodhue plays with horror conventions in ways that are both amusing and stylish. The best scene may be the one in which Alpha slowly, steadily stalks one of her targets during a thunderstorm, with each flash of lightning revealing her hanging maniacally from a different piece of furniture. Alpha is the work of practical puppetry, which is actually perfect for this B-movie setting. Despite her wiry fur and saucer-shaped eyes, she never looks fully real—and in time, she shows recognizable human emotion like anger by furrowing her brow. That slightly-off quality creates a consistently funny yet unsettling vibe.