cover image Slash Them All

Slash Them All

Antoine Maillard, trans. from the French by Jenna Allen. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (152p) ISBN 978-1-68396-657-9

A remorseless killer stalks a beach town in Maillard’s spectacular debut. The story opens in dramatic fashion when a man with obscured eyes bludgeons two girls to death with a baseball bat, but what follows amplifies the sense of dread not with increasing violence but the steady accrual of mundane yet sinister detail. Like many of the 1980s horror films whose template Maillard draws from, the anxieties of this insular, seemingly idyllic community are refracted through its teenagers’ reactions to the danger. Quiet, bespectacled Dan indulges in dark secrets of his own. Tomboyish Pola vacillates between anger, fear, and her feelings for Dan, bonded to her through their outsider statuses and mother issues (his cloying and domineering, hers a drinker). Familiar tropes crop up, like the accompanying media frenzy (in which the killer is dubbed “the Bloody Batter”) and mounting body count and disappearances. But Maillard is focused on subverting slasher tropes with supernatural suggestions, familial trauma, sexual violence, and reimagining the “final girl” scenario as a fiery ritual. The town’s eeriness is compounded by Maillard’s suspiciously serene charcoal-style drawings, which combine Chris Van Allsburg mystery with tight close-ups. This will enrapture fans of elevated horror. (Aug.)