Directed by David Steiman
Starring Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, and Emilie de Ravin, Dave Thomas, Robert Culp
R, 78 mins
The opening scene of Santa’s Slay had a lot of promise. The family sitting down for Christmas dinner includes Fran Drescher, James Caan, and Chris Kattan. They begin to bicker about the turkey being dry which quickly switches into a discussion of vaginal dryness until Santa bursts out of the chimney and murders them all. I was pleasantly surprised, but this turned out to be the high point of the film. Like a roller-coaster that starts with one huge hill and then does nothing but slow down until the end of the ride.
The premise of the movie is that Santa Claus is actually a malevolent spirit that has been forced to be nice after losing a bet. According to The Book of Claus, he is the product of an immaculate conception between Satan and the Virgin Erica. Every year on December 25th he materializes for a twenty-four-hour killing spree, a day so murdery that Christians began to hold a Mass of Christ to pray for protection from Santa. Then in 1005 CE an angel challenged Santa to a high stakes curling match: if Santa lost he had to be nice for a thousand years. The angel won and Santa carried out his end of the wager, but now those thousand years are up.
Santa rides his sleigh into Hell Township and starts killing anyone he feels like. He’s misogynistic, antisemitic, and hates kids, so at several points the murder crosses the line into genuine offensiveness. Adding to the problem is that there is no particular behavior or action that triggers Santa. Whether or not he murders is entirely up to his mood. At one point he breaks into a Jewish deli and murders the owner with a menorah, but a minute later he grunts at a group of Hasidic men and leaves them alone. This is a pretty major plot flaw as there is no build-up of suspense; there is no sense of growing tension that “so-and-so is a goner if she keeps doing such-and-such!” or “he’d better stop wrapping presents if he doesn’t want to get murdered with an icicle!” Without insight into why Santa chooses his victims it diminishes any sort of connection to the characters.
One of the more disappointing aspects is the omission of the gore. I’m not a huge horror fan, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of writing, directing, and producing a movie about Santa killing people, show him killing people. Otherwise it’s a total waste of everyone’s time. In one scene Santa goes into the police station and punches the captain in the balls, then walks past the bodies of the rest of the department, but the audience is not shown any of the action. We’re shown a nut-shot and then an old man slowly walking out of the building while an awful guitar riffed Christmas song plays in the background.
Another huge lapse in writing judgement is that the characters repeatedly warn each other not to “take the Lord’s name in vain” and not to “throw the word Hell around all willy-nilly.” This happens so often that it seems to imply that it will come into play later. Maybe there’s an element of certain phrases having the power to stop Santa or to saying chant to save themselves, but no. That does not happen. At no point are there any magic words or repercussions for using language irresponsibly.
Worst of all is the casual misogyny. A priest, played by Dave Thomas (Mr. F from Arrested Development) takes the church donation money to a strip club. Santa follows him in and makes the most obvious, least funny jokes possible at the expense of the dancers. He calls them “ho, ho, ho’s” and then disinfects a pole before murdering a bouncer with it. Then he stops to leer at the women, calls them naughty, and sets the building on fire, leaving them to burn to death. He doesn’t murder the priest, just every innocent person working in the club that night. That scene was offensive, completely pointless, and a blatant excuse to work boobage into the movie.
I can’t imagine anyone enjoying this movie. There is nothing to enjoy. There are no funny jokes and no blood, making it dull for anyone who likes to laugh and/or see over-the-top horror effects. My guess is this movie was made for fans of Bill Goldberg (the actor cast as Santa). He has a wrestling fan base and maybe people get a kick out of seeing him in something so ridiculous. According to the trivia on his IMDB page he’s pretty awesome. He has three cats and named them Moe, Larry, and Curly. So, if you’re a Bill Goldberg fan, there is a slight chance you will like Santa’s Slay. Nobody else could possibly have fun watching this.