Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: ‘Slayed’ (2020) Movie Review

It’s once again time for some holiday horror, PopHorror fam! For this installment, we have the Terror Films’ Christmas slasher, Slayed, from the folks over at Code 3 Films. You may remember them from our reviews of Massacre On Aisle 12 (2016 – read the review here) and 6:66PM (2017 – read the review here). We recently talked to Slayed directors Mike Capozzi and Jim Klock (read the interview here) about the film, a straight up horror flick that takes place on Christmas Eve, which got us even more excited to see it. We were honored with the chance to watch the film early, and now it’s time to publish our findings.

Synopsis:

Five years after a Christmas Eve massacre in Harris County, AZ, when a crazed killer returns to an impending condemned water treatment plant to terrorize and kill again. Only this time, the lone survivor from that tragic night is waiting to make this Santa-clad monster pay for what he did.

What Works 

Slayed is a holiday slasher. Right there, it gets an extra 10 points. The film opens with this surreal, technicolor scene as someone in a Santa suit tortures two scantily clad women who are tied up with Christmas lights in what appears to be Freddy Krueger’s boiler room. The story continues five years later in 2019 as the workers of an Arizona water treatment plant get ready for the Christmas holiday by shutting things down and buttoning them up tight. This is especially important since it’s Christmas Eve. This dark, dank place was the scene of that horrific, Santa-related murder, and everyone is just waiting for the copycat slashings to begin.

So, we’ve got secretary Nicole (Mahal), who just wants to get the hell out of there. She has shit to do. She’s leaving the place to Crandle (Capozzi), a silent, brooding, chain-smoking loner intent on keeping the place safe for the holiday. Last but not least is Jordan (Klock), a security guard called in to work by the usual night watchmen, Tom (Chuck Roberts), who wants to spend Christmas Eve with his family. Everything seems fine… until it isn’t.

People start disappearing, and bodies start piling up. There’s a killer on the loose, one who’s heavy, grumbling “Ho, ho, ho…” can be heard mocking them from every turn. Will they escape? This is a slasher… what do you think?

slayed

Although Slayed isn’t a horror comedy, there are some funny moments. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the book that Jordan is reading, “How To Become A Serious Actor In Your 4os,” and the mindfulness audiobook he is listening to. Then there’s the scene at the end when Jordan says, “I can feel it… 2020 is going to be the best year ever!” And, because this is a Jim Klock venture, there’s a great Keanu Reeves shoutout in a conversation about the best actors in the world.

The filming location is awesome. Let me say that again: the filming location is awesome. Seriously, if this were a set, you could film 1,000 different horror movies here. Between the low hanging, rusty pipes, the labyrinthine hallways and passages, the dark crevices and weird, echoing noises, this place is a horror filmmaker’s dream. Huge props to Klock & Co. for finding such a perfect place.

The characters are a ton of fun as well. We’ve got bitchy, adulterous Nicole, the aforementioned Creepy Crandle, the obsequious yet industrious Jordan, Nicole’s angry, jealous husband, Dale (Delton Goodrum), in the wrong place at the wrong time jogger Heather (Kyra Kennedy), and the MIA security guard, Tom. The killer could be any of them… or none of them. Ho, ho, ho!

What Doesn’t Work

Not everything works in Slayed, which breaks my heart a bit. I so wanted to love it 110%, but alas. I wasn’t a big fan of the “Christmas in Arizona” aspect. The grass is green, people are wearing shorts, and there is not a snow drift to be seen. Yes, I know people celebrate Christmas in places where it doesn’t snow. Yes, I realize that Slayed was filmed during Covid, and there weren’t that many snowy options. But as a movie watcher, the cold and the snow go hand-in-hand with a holiday horror story, so the fact that everything wasn’t covered in icy frost was no help to my suspension of disbelief.

I also think the film relies a little too much on the “run and hide” aspect. The characters spent way too much time bolting from one place to another with seemingly no destination in mind whatsoever. I understand a good chase scene, but this one went on way too long. For a slasher, the kills are a bit lackluster. There aren’t any big, unique onscreen gorefests, which is something I look forward to in this kind of film. A bit unfortunate.

All in all, I enjoyed Slayed. I think my expectations ran a little high on this one, though, and I was left feeling slightly deflated. But don’t let that stop you! Check out Slayed for yourself at the link below and see what you think. It’s the season for holiday horror!

 

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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