Seasons Greetings from the WLE Underground! Just in time for the holidays comes a horror comedy that has been on my wishlist since I first saw the trailer. Slay Belles tells the classic tale of Santa vs Krampus. Only this time around, Santa has the help of three costume-wearing ladies who discovered him hiding out in an old amusement park. The group races to defeat Krampus before he can spread his yuletide terror across the world.
Slay Belles is a festively bloody good time. Director Dan Walker managed to surprise me with a new modern twist on the overused Krampus story. Rather than making it a period piece or trying to make a serious horror film, the script Walker co-wrote with Jessica Luhrssen has its tongue firmly planted in its rosy cheek. There is an excellent balance of action, horror, and comedy. Many of the jokes land as perfectly as reindeer on the rooftop. This is due to the cast of Kristina Klebe, Susan Slaughter, Hannah Wagner and the always entertaining Barry Bostwick.
Slaughter and Wagner play Dahlia and Sadie respectively. Dahlia and Sadie are two YouTube personalities who go urban exploring. They decided to take their more straight-laced friend, Alexi, on a trip to the abandoned Santa Land. The energy that these three have is infectious and I found myself as excited as they were to go exploring. When they meet up Barry Bostwick’s Santa, the humor goes to a whole other level. Bostwick is perfectly cast as Santa and had me laughing in nearly every scene. The energy of this group can be felt in every aspect of the film; from the editing, to the music, to the camera work. The pacing was perfect for the type of story.
As kinetic as it was, the cinematography could have been smoother. The shakiness worked for the footage that we are shown being taken from the women’s digital video camera, but the camera also had a lot of movement in the more traditional shots. While I would have liked the scenes be steadier, and I think it was the weakest part of the film, it wasn’t so bad as to take me out of the story.
Slay Belles has a fantastic looking Krampus. Where many recent Krampus horror films have gone CGI with the Christmas demon, this Krampus is completely practical and completely creepy. Joel Hebner helps bring this character to life with an energy level that matches the energy of the film. I am sure that the wonderful job the visual effects and makeup department did help with the performance. The gore is gritty, visceral, and not overused. The film used mostly practical effects which were excellent. The times where CGI was used also looked great. I attribute this to Walker who has worked as a visual effects artist on numerous big-budget Hollywood films.
It seems like Christmas horror films are a dime a dozen nowadays but trust me when I say Slay Belles is a hilariously good time wrapped in a bloody red box with a Bostwick bow on top. It is exactly what I had wished for, a modern horror comedy that had me smiling from the opening act until the credits rolled. Slay Belles is available today on V.O.D.