Seventy-four minutes is not a long time for a feature film. When you take away four minutes of opening titles and six minutes for closing titles, you’re not even left with enough time to cook a very small chicken. And yet somehow that seventy-four minutes seemed to last for tens of hours as I endured Santa’s Slay so you, good reader, really, really, reallydon’t have to.
We start with a surprisingly star studded opening scene around a Christmas dinner table. Oscar-nominated James Caan, trying to disguise himself with a moustache, is the head of the family. Spinal Tap’s Bobbi Flekman and the guy who isn’t Will Farrell from Night at the Roxbury are also there. They are moaning about Christmas and about being rich when Santa drops down the chimney and kills them all in a variety of less than interesting ways.
While Santa’s outfit has a reasonable medieval look to it, I knew there was something wrong by the way he kept tossing his victims over his shoulders and, I think the term is, “body-slamming” them. Is Santa Claus a fucking wrestler now? I looked him up; Bill Goldberg who plays Father Christmas is indeed a wrestler. He acts like it too, shouting out terrible puns, showboating like he’s in a stadium and threatening anyone who’ll listen. I imagine if you’re a fan of the World Wildlife Fund, and an eight year old boy, you might get a kick out of this. However this film is quite violent (but in a really dull way) so eight year olds probably can’t see it. Santa has a tendency to throw men onto sharp objects, or throw sharp objects at them. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be set on fire. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this, I’m not sure I want to know.
James Caan, the filmmakers realising he deserved better having appeared in one of the greatest films ever made (not Elf), is stabbed through the mouth with a turkey drumstick. Its a lot less exciting than it sounds.
Anyway, after the long opening credit sequence, we get to the plot. Sigh. Something about Santa getting revenge on an angel who he lost a curling match to a thousand years ago. No, really… I can’t even be bothered writing any more about it. Needless to say two plucky teens fight back, Douglas Smith who is given the burden of the wisecracking hero who says nothing funny at all, ever, and Emilie de Ravin (probably just before Lost and Brick) who deserved, and thankfully eventually got, better. The rest of the small town (which is actually called Hell, in a set up for an incredibly poor joke) is populated by vaguely recognisable character actors who have obviously been told they are in a comedy so to PLAY IT LOUD AND BROAD. This is not how to do comedy. This is not funny. At all. Not even once.
I think horror comedies are one of the hardest sub-genres to get right, Christmas horror movies can be equally difficult too, so kudos goes to these guys for trying but please, I can’t imagine anyone actually laughed while reading the script, its just awful. For example, a Jewish baker is found murdered in his shop, the policeman who finds him says, loudly: “There’s something not Kosher about this”. Pfft…
Another thing I noticed a lot is that the action seems sped up, like some of the stupid wrestling throws. I guess this is fair enough, but also many of the chasing scenes are sped up to the point of being comical. I don’t mean funny comical, I mean a bad joke. Was this on purpose? Was it an attempt to make the film more cartoonish? Or was it just because the film was too slow otherwise? Also there’s a sped up scene when two people were just walking and talking. Such a weird approach to editing a modern film.
Oh look, it’s just terrible. Please don’t ever watch this. It has one redeeming feature and that’s the flashback sequence, which is done in stop motion and is actually kind of charming. The rest of the film; it’s a fucking chore.
Not a good start to Christmas horror week.