‘The Jack in the Box Rises’ Trailer Unveiled: Indie Horror Sequel Set for April Release

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Before you dismiss Slay as a gimmick, we can tell you, it is. But it’s a damn good one. 

Four drag queens are mistakenly booked at a stereotypical biker bar in the desert where they have to combat bigots…and vampires. You read that right. Think, Too Wong Foo at the Titty Twister. Even if you don’t get those references, you will still have a good time.

Before you sashay away from this Tubi offering, here is why you shouldn’t. It’s surprisingly funny and manages to have a few scary moments along the way. It’s a midnight movie at its core and if those bookings were still a thing, Slay would probably have a successful run. 

The premise is simple, again, four drag queens played by Trinity the Tuck, Heidi N Closet, Crystal Methyd, and Cara Mell find themselves at a biker bar unaware that an alpha vampire is on the loose in the woods and has already bitten one of the townsfolk. The turned man makes his way to the old roadside saloon and begins turning the patrons into the undead right in the middle of the drag show. The queens, along with the local barflies, barricade themselves inside the bar and must defend themselves against the growing hoard outside.

“Slay”

The contrast between the denim and leather of the bikers, and the ball gowns and Swarovski crystals of the queens, is a sight gag I can appreciate. During the whole ordeal, none of the queens gets out of costume or sheds their drag personas except at the beginning. You forget they have other lives outside of their costumes.

All four of the leading ladies have had their time on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, But Slay is a lot more polished than a Drag Race acting challenge, and the leads elevate the camp when called for and tone it down when necessary. It is a well-balanced scale of comedy and horror.

Trinity the Tuck is primed with one-liners and double entendres which rat-a-tat from her mouth in gleeful succession. It’s not a cringy screenplay so every joke lands naturally with a required beat and professional timing.

There is one questionable joke made by a biker about who comes from Transylvania and it isn’t the highest brow but it doesn’t feel like punching down either. 

This might be the guiltiest pleasure of the year! It’s hilarious! 

Slay

Heidi N Closet is surprisingly well cast. It’s not that it’s surprising to see she can act, it’s just most people know her from Drag Race which doesn’t allow much range. Comically she’s on fire. In one scene she flips her hair behind her ear with a large baguette and then uses it as a weapon. The garlic, you see. It’s surprises like that that make this film so charming. 

The weaker actor here is Methyd who plays the dimwitted Bella Da Boys. Her creaky performance shaves a little off the rhythm but the other ladies take up her slack so it just becomes part of the chemistry.

Slay has some great special effects too. Despite using CGI blood, none of them take you out of the element. Some great work went into this movie from everyone involved.

The vampire rules are the same, stake through the heart, sunlight., etc. But what’s really neat is when the monsters are killed, they explode into a glitter-tinted dust cloud. 

It’s just as fun and silly as any Robert Rodriguez movie with probably a quarter of his budget. 

Director Jem Garrard keeps everything going at a rapid pace. She even throws in a dramatic twist which is played with as much seriousness as a soap opera, but it does pack a punch thanks to Trinity and Cara Melle. Oh, and they manage to squeeze in a message about hate during it all. Not a smooth transition but even the lumps in this film are made of buttercream.

Another twist, handled much more delicately is better thanks to veteran actor Neil Sandilands. I’m not going to spoil anything but let’s just say there are plenty of twists and, ahem, turns, which all add to the fun. 

Robyn Scott who plays barmaid Shiela is the standout comedian here. Her lines and gusto provide the most belly laughs. There should be a special award for her performance alone.

Slay is a delicious recipe with just the right amount of camp, gore, action, and originality. It’s the best horror comedy to come along in a while.

It’s no secret that independent films have to do a lot more for less. When they are this good it’s a reminder that big studios could be doing better.

With movies like Slay, every penny counts and just because the paychecks might be smaller it doesn’t mean the final product has to be. When the talent puts this much effort into a film, they deserve more, even if that recognition comes in the form of a review. Sometimes smaller movies like Slay have hearts too big for an IMAX screen.

And that’s the tea. 

You can stream Slay on Tubi right now.



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