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Slay (2024) Review

Slay is what you might get if you mixed From Dusk Till Dawn with To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Only, instead of putting Hollywood actors in drag, cast lead roles with contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Four drag queens, Mama Sue Flay (Trinity The Tuck), Robin Banks (Heidi N Closet, Stan Behaviour, The Bitch Who Stole Christmas), Bella Da Boys (Crystal Methyd, Bring Back My Ghouls), and Olive Wood (Cara Melle) are on tour. And like most touring entertainers, they’re broke. But not to worry, their next gig is at a well known drag club, The Bold Tuck.

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Except it isn’t, they’ve been booked at The Bold Buck, a biker bar in the middle of nowhere. It’s not exactly an ideal venue, and they seem about as anxious to play it as the patrons are to see it. Even after the bartender, Dusty (Neil Sandilands, Eraser: Reborn, The Flash), says he’s willing to pay them, they’re still skeptical. But when what may be the only two out people in the county, Jax (Donia Kash, Hearts in the Game, The Secret of Bella Vista) and Steven (Gabriel Harry Meltz, Grant, Somber Pines) turn up, they decide to take their chances.

“At a time when hate and intolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community is on the rise, I wanted to write a horror comedy with heart that showcased drag queens and queers as the heroes. Drag queens have always been a symbol of resistance and resilience, so seeing them kick-ass against a bunch of blood-sucking vampires felt like a comical, yet pointed allegory.”

Jem Garrard, writer/director, “Slay”

Almost immediately, Travis (Daniel Janks, Office Invasion, Tremors 5: Bloodlines) starts heckling them. But it’s not until Marv (Gustav Rossouw, Die Byl) wanders in and takes a bite out of another patron’s neck that things really get out of hand.

With four drag queens as its leads and an LGBTQ writer/director, Jem Garrard (Vagrant Queen, Secrets of My Stepdaughter) there’s never any doubt about the film’s sensibilities. The result is a flamboyantly funny and outrageous horror comedy that manages to find the right balance between scares, laughs and more serious moments.

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It also shows respect for its characters, avoiding stereotypes and clichés. Even Travis is painted as something other than a cartoonish bigot. And, his character actually has an arc that actually feels logical. Dusty also has a character arc which, while maybe pushing believability a bit, is unexpectedly upbeat.

There’s also some unexpected meta humour, such as characters responding to an off-screen decapitation “They ripped his head off… And in slow motion.” as the severed head drifts by. There are also plenty of references to other vampire films, including disappointment that none of them look like Jason Patric in The Lost Boys., and glitter makeup provoking comments about Twilight.

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There is plenty of action, both played straight and given a humours edge, with weapons that range from pool cues to high heels. Slay may also be the first film to use garlic bread as a weapon against the undead. And while there is plenty of staking going on, the vampires explode into dust, so the severed head I mentioned earlier is all there really is by way of gore.

I will say that although the leads are great performers, they’re not professional actors, and while they do a good job given that, there are the occasional rough spots along the way. But that’s really the only complaint I have. Overall, Slay is a highly enjoyable slice of camp that will probably end up with a cult following.

Slay is free to watch wherever Tubi is available.

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Our Score

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