November 9, 2017

Movie Review: Red Christmas

What is it about Christmas and horror that blends so well? It is a strange mixture that, while not always perfect, often yields entertaining results. Now, outside of Halloween and summer camps, Christmas may be the best pairing with everyone’s favorite film genre. Just look at some of the classics we have already, there is the family friendly horror of Gremlins, the antics of Silent Night Deadly Night, the somewhat sad Christmas Evil, and even the recent iteration of the Krampus tale. That doesn’t even get to international offerings like Rare Exports and Sint. Now we have an offering from Australia, Red Christmas. Does it have what it takes to join the pantheon of classic Christmas horror hybrids? Perhaps.

It was written and directed by Craig Anderson. Anderson has spent much of his career acting and directing for television, this is his first feature film and, from what I can see, his first foray into horror. Red Christmas is not just a Christmas/horror mash, it is also a comedy/horror mash. This might be the biggest flaw. The tone wavers between comical and slightly over the top and emotional, topical, and poignant. Fortunately, it never quite goes off the rails and manages to get progressively more and more messed up.

As the story begins, we find ourselves in a medical facility where and abortion is taking place. At the same time a bomb goes off by someone targeting abortion doctors. As fate would have it, the supposed to be aborted fetus is dropped in a bucket and ignored in the chaos. However, the bomber sees it, just a bloody goo covered hand reaches up over the lip of the bucket. There you have the prologue. If that doesn’t grab your attention, then I don’t know what will.

It is not the most over the top movie I have seen, but it is also not one to pull its punches. Some may find it to be a little triggering and disconcerting if you are unprepared. At the same time, is also doesn’t do a very good job of disguising who the killer is going to be. That’s all right, while it is not a surprise to us, it is a surprise to the family he is targeting, and it is their fright which is a bit more important.

It should also be noted that while this is a horror film set at Christmastime, not to mention a comedy, it is a movie that takes aim at some real issues, most notably religion and female bodily autonomy. All of this shrouded in a slasher film.

After the gruesome open, the movie jumps ahead twenty years. We are introduced to Diana (Dee Wallace), the widowed matriarch of a large and dysfunctional family. They are all gathering to celebrate the holiday and Diana’s remote home. We have her drunk brother (I think), her adopted daughter, her son with Down Syndrome, and her older daughters, one is religious and married to a pastor and the other decidedly atheist and very much pregnant with her significant other. Under normal circumstances I think it would take a miracle to keeps these relatives from killing each other.

As one would expect, the family member s are bickering and quarreling all the time, but that is about to change when the doorbell rings. On the front porch is a figure wrapped in bandages and wearing a large black cloak, not unlike the traditional image of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Hmmm, I might be onto something, nah, I’m sure they thought of that. Anyway, they invite the stranger, named Cletus, in, in the name of the season, offer him something to drink and even give him a gift. However, he begins to read a letter which talks about his abortion doctor killing father and his search for his family. Diana freaks out and throws him out. This is where things begin to change.

As soon as they throw Cletus out, the movie takes a dark turn and spirals into a crazier and crazier kill spiral. Cletus begins to target each member of the family. Now, I am not going to tell you what happens, but man, it gets progressively darker and does some pretty crazy stuff. The movie does have some interesting and bloody kills up its sleeve and is qute entertaining.

No, Red Christmas is not a perfect movie, but it does deliver some fun. It has good kills, some good emotion, some interesting characters, and is never boring. It is not quite long enough to truly and fully develop, but at the same time it does not overstay its welcome or get too preachy. It is funny, while it is not perfect or even great, I do not have the desire to pick it apart. It is definitely a winner for me.


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