Mercifully not dragged out at just 75 minutes long. Slay Belles is Christmas horror-comedy that certainly tries hard. However, it misses the mark a few too many times and struggles to keep the momentum going.
The stars of the movie are Alexi (Kristina Klebe), Dahlia (Susan Slaughter) and Sadie (Hannah Wagner). The trio refer to themselves as The Adventure Girls and have a hit YouTube channel. One where they post videos of themselves doing cosplay and exploring dangerous and abandoned locations.
The subject of their next video is an abandoned Christmas theme park called Santa Land. Or at least they think it is abandoned until they meet its resident, Santa (Barry Bostwick). This is the real Santa who reveals he is locked in battle with Krampus and has been for centuries. All the local killings that have been blamed on bears? That was Krampus and now the trio are going to have to help the old man defeat the evil once and for all.
Try and unchain your brain, Slay Belles aims to play it all for laughs but just isn’t funny enough to distract from the barebones plot. It has moments, thanks to the cast more than anything but not enough to be memorable.
Talking of which, the three ladies are the highlight even if their characters are very limited. They are tough, thrash talking bad girls and play up to that not just with their actions and dialogue but with their outfits too. After all, they are cosplayers.
They have chemistry and play off Barry Bostwick’s Santa Claus well. Although, a few too many talky bits around the middle drag things down a step. Happily, there is plenty of action around these moments with some welcome gore (very limited though) and a pretty surprising ending.
The problem overall with Slay Belles is that it could have been a 15 minute short and nothing really would have felt different. The same plot, the same level of character development and the same ending. it just isn’t that memorable.