Walking in a winter wonderland…and almost dying. It’s not the catchy jingle that generations have fallen in love with, but it’s the most basic synopsis for the new feature film being released by Epic Pictures on December 4th. Written by Jessica Luhrssen and Spooky Dan Walker, Slay Belles follows three punk rock cosplayers as they adventure into an abandoned North Pole attraction to take sexy pictures and videos for their online followers. Unfortunately, they’re going to encounter more than tetanus and poison ivy, since the Christmas Devil, Krampus himself, has set up shop in the tiny, forgotten village. Now it’s a fight for survival and hijinx is the gift that keeps on giving. Produced by Jessica Luhrssen and Esther Goodstein, Slay Belles stars Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Susan Slaughter (Ouija House), Hannah Wagner (The Devil’s Carnival), Stephen Ford (“Teen Wolf”), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Diane Salinger (Batman Returns), Joel Hebner (Automaton Transfusion) and Richard Moll (The Flintstones).
Slay Belles‘ director, Spooky Dan Walker, is very well known in the horror and science fiction industry for his digital effects work. Previously, he’s worked on films such as Cursed, Deep Blue Sea and Final Destination 2. Slay Belles is his third time in the director’s chair and his second feature film to date, so I was excited to see what he has to offer the world of holiday horror in 2018. Well, I love that Slay Belles falls into that subgenre without repeatedly beating the viewer over the head with Christmas cheer, a misfire and a pitfall that plagues the majority of Christmas horror films. The magnificent and slightly macabre setting, the abandoned Santa village, is enough of a reminder that this takes place around the holidays and it’s beautifully and whimsically disguised as to not appear overbearing. A really smart decision was made during the script writing process and it was brought to screen with movie theater quality by director Spooky Dan Walker, cinematographer Graham Robbins, and producers Jessica Luhrssen and Esther Goodstein. As a product to be delivered to the masses, Slay Belles is a cohesive, well-rounded picture.
The only problem is… I despise the three main characters – Alexi, Dalia and Sadie. This is no disrespect to the actresses behind the characters. Kristina, Susan and Hannah did an amazing job with these roles, as always, but I really just hated them. Two out of three never grew up and live life like over-sized ten year olds, and all of them are marginally obnoxious. Slay Belles isn’t the type of movie where you route for the leads’ survival. Oh no, with this movie, you want them dead as shit. Even with the horror film cliches – “oh hey, a bunch of kids keep getting killed by a mystery man” – they still trespass and break in. I don’t feel sorry for them. They were warned. When Krampus appears, thankfully rather early in the film, he’s more so the character that you’re going to love. Big, ferocious and everything you want him to be. Props to Joel Hebner and special effects Vincent Guastini for bringing Krampus to life in such an invigorating way. I will give major points to a production tat uses practical effects and costuming every single time!
Presented by Dread Central, Slay Belles is a unique, rock and roll romp in the woods. It’s majestic, fantastical, magical and suspenseful. But it’s the farthest thing from scary. What it lacks in terror, though, it more than makes up for in fun. Again, I hated the fuck out of the three main characters, but I loved everything else about this movie. Slay Belles is on demand everywhere beginning December 4th 2018. I’d suggest watching it with your friends while chugging some egg nog and rum. Make a drinking game out of it, if you wish. Slay Belles is jammed with celebrity appearances, and you can take a drink whenever a Hollywood legend graces the screen. A great way to kick off the holiday horror season, I’m giving this one a passing score, despite the body count being almost non-existent. Final Score: 7 out of 10.