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Santa's Slay
cast: Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Ravin, and Robert Culp

director: David Steiman

78 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
Lions Gate DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Ben J. Lamb
There are two golden rules when it comes to Hollywood filmmaking. First of all, Christmas films are never any good and secondly wrestlers can rarely make the transition from glorified acrobatics to serious on-screen acting. With this in mind, whilst gazing at the image of the scowling Bill Goldberg upon the Santa's Slay front cover, it is safe to say my optimism for this film was never really existent.

However, despite these rules, the film does in fact have a surprisingly entertaining start. During a nice family dinner Santa proceeds to bash through the fireplace and massacre everyone in sight with a whole host of Christmassy household objects thus putting a swift end to their bickering and celebrations. As I watched this my mouth was wide open in sheer amazement. It was so unbelievably cheesy and outrageous that it was in fact hilarious. With the vast majority of Christmas films always plugging sentimentality and emphasising the message of togetherness it felt refreshing to see a new bloodthirsty aspect to the Father Christmas character along with the image of Christmas.

The sheer idea of squeezing the muscle-bound Goldberg into an evil dirtied Santa suit to go around spreading 'a little yuletide fear' is an ingenious concept alone. For the first 20 minutes or so the action set pieces which include Santa demolishing a strip joint are fairly entertaining. But it soon all wears a little thin. The general concept of Goldberg running around in a Santa outfit would be entertaining for a comedy sketch but it cannot hold together an entire film. His reign of terror is pitifully strung together by a subplot which consists of a teenage boy, who apparently still believes in Father Christmas, along with his love interest and grandfather who all make it their mission to send Santa back to hell. But with the young lead Douglas Smith and the grandfather Robert Culp appearing to either be reading from an autocue or obviously repeating memorised lines we do not care about these wooden characters running in fear from Santa in the slightest.

As for Goldberg's acting ability itself he has nothing to do other than smirk, deliver catchphrases such as "Christmas can sure scare the Dickens out of people" and pull off wrestling moves for his loyal fans who are no doubt at the heart of the film's fan-base. As soon as Goldberg opens his mouth his so-called acting simply consists of shouting lines as if he were in a wrestling ring with his trademark gravely tone whilst raising his eyebrows in a pantomime fashion. The only skill involved belongs to the make-up department whose efforts have made him look convincing as an evil bloodthirsty Santa albeit ruined by his lack of conviction.

But the main flaw with this film is the contradictory messages it communicates across. Initially the idea of Santa punishing people for celebrating Christmas left right and centre could quite possibly be interpreted as an attack on the commercialisation of Christmas. But the fact Santa's Slay is a straight-to-DVD film capitalising on the image of Christmas to make a profit means such a message could never be taken seriously. With this in mind and the frequent anti-Semitic imagery which includes a hilarious scene where Santa scares away a group of Jews by hissing at them, it is almost as if the image of contemporary Christmas is in fact being reinstated. But again this is not accurate because he kills anyone for simply celebrating Christmas with no inherent reason. No subtext can be found here as this is simply a second rate horror which is not scary as all the murders are never particularly horrific, believable and are always over the top.

Also for your consideration are three five-minute 'making-of' featurettes, 10 minutes of deleted scenes and a blooper reel which lasts a few seconds. All of these truly demonstrate the full extent of producer Brett Ratner's delirious, self indulgent and warped view of what he generally believes makes a worthwhile movie.

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