Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A decade ago, if anyone had said several of the greatest modern slasher movies would debut to Netflix, not a single soul would have believed it. After some of my personal favorites made a splash on the streamer—including The Babysitter films, the Fear Street trilogy, and There’s Someone Inside Your House—even a foreign import genre flick would become a must-see. This singular film mixes horror and comedy splendidly, as a van full of coworkers get picked off one by one at a cushy cabin retreat. Co-writer/director Patrik Eklund presents a scathing takedown of corporate greed in Swedish slasher gem The Conference.

Tomorrow will be historic for the municipality: the time has come to prep for press day for the future site of the Kolarängen shopping mall! On the way to a team-building retreat, the entire crew makes a stop to take a peak before construction begins. To get to this stage, project manager Jonas (Adam Lundgren) has had to fight to make it a reality in more ways than one. Building on top of a farm was bound to ruffle a few feathers; despite public outcry, there appear to be no plans to cease and desist. Ingela (Maria Sid) leads the group, proudly proclaiming that now is the perfect time to combine work and pleasure. Call it “competence development” to keep it tax deductible.

A clever script from Eklund, Thomas Moldestad, and Mats Strandberg allows us to get acquainted with every character before pulling the rug out. The group arrives at Kolarsjons Holiday village, and is promptly assigned their cabins, grouped by astrological signs. Freshly returned from sick leave, Lina (Katia Winter) constantly gets underestimated by her coworkers. Each have distinct personalities that will color their arcs for the duration of the fast-paced runtime, including (but not limited to) fiery Jenny (Lola Zackow), Jonas lackey Kajan (Christoffer Nordenrot), and lovable old couple Torbjörn (Claes Hartelius) and Annette (Cecilia Nilsson). 

With unstable wifi and less than luxurious amenities, Kolarsjons fits the municipality’s meager budget just fine. To make matters worse, the staff begin to slowly disappear at the mercy of a masked figure donned in the mascot head of Kolarängen shopping mall’s very own Sooty. The simplicity of the mask speaks volumes: a wide open smile with a little tongue showing, wide extra-large eye holes, and a jaunty brown hat topped off with a little feather. No one seems to have any clue who or what is hunting them down, but the body count begins to pile up quickly. Eklund masterfully directs these stalk-and-slash sequences—a brief chase scene peppered with clever transitions that ends with a frying pan was one of my personal favorites.

As the tension in The Conference builds, so too do the complicated dynamics between those here to celebrate their work victories. Corruption and greed, chainsaws, golden shovels, bear traps, and more emerge at every turn. Gorehounds can satisfy their sweet tooth, as The Conference truly goes for the jugular with the creativity in some of the kills. The dark humor supercharges the more violent, wacky tendencies. This is a movie that never loses its grip on reality, keeping its central characters grounded even as hilarity and craziness ensues. 

Zip lining straight into my heart, Patrik Eklund’s wildly inventive film contains virtually every element one would crave from a property of this ilk. Complex characters, numerous chase scenes, gory hijinks, laugh-out-loud moments, an epic finale, and light messaging—The Conference has it all. A slasher that feels equal parts Triangle of Sadness and lost Friday the 13th sequel, The Conference should find its horror-hungry audience just in time for spooky season on Netflix.

Book your stay to attend The Conference when this stunning slasher debuts exclusively to Netflix on Friday, October 13th.

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