For his feature film debut, Sleight, director J.D. Dillard decided not to let himself or his film be stuck in a box. The film, about Bo, a street magician who occasionally works for a local drug dealer, is part thriller and part fantasy, with peril at every turn. So, just how scary is Sleight? The answer depends on how desensitized you are to gun violence and how afraid you are of magic (no judgement here). Sleight isn't a horror film, so if you hate gore, but love adrenaline, it's going to be the perfect fit.
Sleight has been described as everything — thriller, fantasy, science fiction, superhero action — but one thing it has not been described as is a horror film. Based on the trailer, it's clear that Sleight is going to be a bit scarier than your average superhero movie. It's gritty, and has a realistic feel to it that big budget Marvel and DC movies just don't have. Dillard and co-writer Alex Theurer's intent was always to mix a bit of sci-fi genre with reality. As Dillard described it when the film premiered at Sundance in an interview with The Verge, "There's something to be said for taking just one baby subtle element of science fiction, and just letting the story unfold naturally from that."
For Dillard and Theurer, the genre mash-up wasn't accidental. "Sleight has our natural obsessions with hip hop and street magic and sci-fi," Dillard told Filmmaker Magazine, adding that they wanted the movie to "sit comfortably in a few different genres." If I had to classify Sleight in just one genre, it wouldn't be horror or thriller, it would be superhero. The movie isn't scary enough to be horror, and, though thriller sounds about right, the fact that Sleight is getting a prequel comic speaks for itself. Think of the movie as more of a superhero film than a scary one.
Now, full disclosure: if magic freaks you out, or if you are — by some miracle — not desensitized to gun violence on screen, then Sleight might offer you a few scary moments. Otherwise, I'd say Sleight isn't likely to have you screaming in your seat. If anything, it will probably have you cheering Bo on.