Where would we be without passion projects? Certainly, I’ve wasted a healthy share of my life watching awful B films that have clearly been scraped together by a few dedicated souls. On the other hand, these are the films I remember as they’re so strange, so unpolished, and perhaps tacky, that they fall outside of the norm and make their own special statement. This couldn’t be more true for this week’s pick; there’s a lot I would change about this film, but I’m sure it will be difficult to forget.
Off to explore an abandoned theme park for their livestream, a group of friends is caught up an ancient battle between Santa Claus and Krampus.
Just before midnight on Christmas Eve, Santa and three women have seemingly tied up and threatened a police officer. Why in the world would Santa commit such an outlandish crime? Let’s rewind to 12 hours earlier.
All prepared to work her regular shift for the holidays, responsible one of her friend group Alexi is pleasantly surprised when gal pals Sadie and Dahlia have made arrangements to cover her shift. The duo of Sadie and Dahlia are minor social media stars, relying on their Adventure Girl videos to make their money. When they’re off to adventure, the two don colorful (and quite skimpy) outfits and explore abandoned buildings.
Today’s outing is to Santaland, an abandoned amusement park, and Alexi is thrilled to be along for the ride. However, the ladies certainly have their priorities in order when they stop at a grungy roadside bar. Hoping to drink in peace, the locals are less than impressed with the Christmas cheer the three women bring along. Along with the bitterly sarcastic bartender, the ladies meet police officer Sean. He warns them to be careful as they explore because of a string of deaths possibly caused by a bear. Spoiler: it’s not a bear.
Determined to enjoy their day, the ladies don their festive apparel and record their adventures. Little do they know, they are being watched on camera…and by a sasquatch-like creature. After an encounter with the creature, the group seeks shelter in a cozy cabin and attempts to convince the police dispatcher of what they saw.
Before long, an older biker appears, claiming the cabin belongs to him, aka Santa Claus. As the women believe him to be a deranged stalker, Santa has to work to prove he’s the real thing–and that the creature is none other than the Krampus.
Santa admittedly epitomizes the Baby Boomer stereotype when he tells his sad tale: Krampus, who is inextricably connected with Santa, is no longer needed to scare morality into children. Just like Krampus, Santa is no longer needed either. Santa honestly utters the line “You can take Santa out of Christmas, but you can’t take the Christmas out of Santa.” However, now that Krampus is on the loose, Santa again has a purpose. But, since the two are connected, Krampus needs to be stopped but not killed.
In order to lure out the Krampus, our leading ladies will need to behave badly, which is as cringey as you might expect. Somehow, the plan works, and Krampus is in the gang’s clutches–but, inevitably, he escapes (though not before a dramatic lightsaber-style fight with Santa). The group loops Sean into the plan rather unwillingly, though he’s quite forgiving of being tied up and held at gunpoint, all things considered.
Though armed and fully prepared to put the plan in motion, things do not go as anticipated. The sudden arrival of Mrs. Claus changes everything–but is she as ready to save Christmas as legend would have us believe?
2/5 Pink Panther Heads
I’ve got to admit I enjoy some of the creative ideas here and their potential to create a quirky Christmas horror. The surprise reveal of Mrs. Claus is genuinely unexpected, and I instantly loved her character even though her purpose was largely to cackle madly. I connected with her intense hatred of Christmas and found myself rooting for her. And this is the only Christmas film I can think of that ends with a decapitated Santa.
On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore how incredibly low-budget this film looks and feels, as well as the truly horrendous acting and dialogue. The soundtrack is unforgivable too, featuring a bunch of obnoxiously loud, shitty dubstep (even for dubstep).
I expected our leading ladies to be way more badass considering this film’s title is Slay Belles. For most of the film, they exist to demonstrate the absurdity of social media stardom. Sadie gets especially tiresome as she giggles incessantly about being naughty and waits for her shitty boyfriend to message her back.
Also, there are so many scenes featuring the incompetent police force and dismissive dispatcher; though ostensibly comic relief, these scenes get old so very fast.
But credit where credit’s due: the filmmakers clearly had fun with this and were willing to take their wild ideas and run with them.