It becomes apparent very early doors why Santa’s Slay is the first, and only, feature film from David Steiman. The film should be a raucous, fun, over-the-top slasher with a heavy side of slashing, but the result is a lacklustre attempt that falls almost entirely flat. Santa’s Slay opens well enough, as a Christmas dinner is rudely interrupted by a murderous Santa who quickly dispatches them all. The kills here are outrageously outlandish and set the tone for a zany, comedy laden horror film to leave you all jolly and merry.
The intended result doesn’t pan out though, as once the opening sequence is finished, Santa’s Slays stumbles head-first into a void that is lacking in both plot and suspense. The story, what little of it there is, is flimsy and weak. Scenes run from one into the next with little to connect them. Characters, even those that are main players, struggle to grasp the viewer’s attention and all fall within the bracket of dated stereotypes. In terms of arcs, there are none, by the conclusion, no one feels any different to when first introduced. Not every film has to challenge its protagonist with ordeal after ordeal, but there has to be a noticeable growth. All that appears changed in main character Nicolas is that he’s slightly more assertive with his girlfriend Mac. The weak character work, combined with the transparent and chaotic narrative, serve up a minuscule and mediocre movie meal, and not the festive frightener promised by its premise.
There has been a long history of wrestlers moving into movies and Santa’s Slay was one of the many attempts of Bill Goldberg, AKA Goldberg, to break into the movies. Hulk Hogan managed it for a little while, and the trio of Dave Bautista, John Cena, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson have managed their transitions well. Goldberg it seems, had an inability to pick a decent script, lacked the acting talent for leading roles, and perhaps just simply didn’t have the audience following that the other three did. This is exemplified perfectly in the way that most people are not aware of Santa’s Slay’s existence, and of those that do, fewer still realise who Goldberg is and his relevance outside of the movie. It’s sad, but he’s not the only wrestler to fail the move: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (HHH) and Stone Cold Steve Austin also failed to set Hollywood alight.
Where Santa’s Slay heavily missteps is in the portrayal of the demonic Santa. Goldberg races around offing people on his killing spree in wonderfully silly ways, and yet it still doesn’t quite work. This failure rests heavily on the decision to keep the character mainly non-verbal. A massive chunk of the character’s screen time is devoted to him growling or trying to look menacing, Towards the end, Santa morphs into Mr. Chatterbox, but it is all too little too late. This type of character would work much better with Freddy Kruger or Chucky style banter with victims; such interactions would have also ramped up the fun and cut through the tedium.
An underwhelming yuletide horror that could, and should, have been so much better. A massive disappointment, to sit down and focus solely upon Santa’s Slay would be ill-advised and this nonsense is best viewed in the background.
Santa’s Slay is available on Amazon Prime now.