It’s a Wonderful Slice (2024)

Rating: D

Dir: Michael Moutsatsos
Star: Rick Ryan, Joshua Salazar Falat, Jose Garcia, Sandra Elaine

It’s a bold move to start promoting your anthology of Christmas horror in summer. I guess it could be considered as counter-programming, and on that basis it worked. I was curious enough to bite, deciding to schedule my review on the calendar’s direct opposite of Christmas Day. Perhaps if I had been more in the festive spirit – it’s forecast to reach 110 F here in Arizona this week – I might have been more receptive to psychotic psantas. But, to be honest, I think it’s just that there’s not a lot that works here. Less than half the segments are anything approaching interesting, and that’s with a fairly generous use of the term “interesting”.

It begins with something at least unusual: Santa Claud wandering around Hollywood Boulevard waving a blood-stained machete (top). It probably says a lot about Tinseltown that people are fairly chill with this. No prizes for guessing the contents of the gift-wrapped box he’s carrying, especially if you’ve seen Se7en. The problems begin with the post-Hollywood intro and first trio of sections, which are all more or less versions on the same theme: people wander around the woods until they meet someone or something, murderous and vaguely festive.  They get captured, tortured and murdered. I’m sorry, but slapping a Santa hat on your mediocre slasher short, really does not do anything to improve it. I’m surprised I have to explain this, but here we are.

The foley is particularly unconvincing and terrible. It stands out particularly, because the audio generally on the film is decent, especially considering the amount of outdoor shooting. While there are somewhat different flavours of victims to be found here – hikers, a famous actor, film-makers scoping out locations – none of them merit your attention. I was beginning to wonder if all of the segments were going to take place in the forest, presumably for reasons of poverty. Fortunately, we move back into the city, albeit with a recycled actor, for #4, Demonic Intentions. This is an improvement simply by not being people getting killed in the woods. Instead it’s a man who is going insane in his apartment, pushed over the edge by having been born on Christmas Day, so consequently getting stiffed for presents.

Finally, is the best segment, A Doll to Die For, in which the psychotic Wendy kidnaps a man, believing him to be Santa Claus, and punishes him for having repeatedly failed to bring her the toy she wanted. These are likely the two best performances in the whole movie, so having them in the same chapter certainly elevates things. It is, however, the poster child for “too little, too late.” One of the film’s producers is Phil Herman, and we’ve reviewed his own anthologies before, most relevantly, I Slay on Christmas. They tend to be zero-budget done right, typically with a sense of fun which I find endearing. It’s lacking here, and this is very much a grind, only rarely getting into the necessary festive spirit.