Now that Halloween 2017 has ended, it’s time for the next holiday, while many think of Thanksgiving, sorry face it, it’s Christmas, the Hallmark TV station already started the seasonal movies, commercials airing for products, Santa signs announcing his return and musicians informing of their Christmas concerts. However, a redeeming quality for the horror fans, the holiday season lately contains blood splatter on white snow, like crushed holly berries, face it most would likely agree that Black Christmas (1974) ranks high the seasonal watch list, and Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) hits the naughty list. Strangely enough for first time feature director Craig Anderson, who also penned the film Red Christmas, released the movie late in August, missing both Christmas in July and yuletide season, however the film already achieved its entry into the home market via VOD, DVD, and even Blu-ray. Therefore, in the spirit of season stuffed this bloody Australian treat from Artsploitation Films into the horror fan’s stocking.
The film starts with a controversial issue of abortion and religious figures during a procedure of removal, and interrupted by the religiously-motivated blast, then transcend 20-years later the story actually starts the terror. A heavily shrouded man with a speech impediment hoping to get directions does a bit of mumbling, which makes his dialog a little challenging from time to time. Spoiler warning, grim reaper Cletus (Sam Campbell) is an abortion survivor seeking vengeance on his mother, Diane (Dee Wallace), running into a cruel person in the backwoods on his way to his mom’s home. This all becomes an incredible leap of logic but still Cletus gets welcomed into Diane’s home. He wants to read a special letter, but gets a weird gift first, but stutters constantly before freaking out a bickering family. The festivities continue of the family belittling each other, before Cletus returns spreading open this strangeness of the guests in an unusual manner of slashing by the numbers. Wallace’s performance keeps the average horror fan quite well engaged, as she masks her well hidden secret, aside from perhaps her husband, Joe (Geoff Morrell) and the reason for it, beyond despicable. However, the characters fit the normal slasher stereotypes, without much depth, except for the weird connection from her son Jerry (Gerard Odwyer) to Cletus, their bond grows odder during the third act.
Clearly early into the production one can tell the limited amount of equipment, the camera shots for the large family and house move exceptional quickly trying to cover everything. However, while successful with violence impact and beauty of blood splatter the story itself suffers. Wallace carries the film and most of scenes; a bickering family copies the essence of a true holiday gathering, the strange introduction of Cletus, who invites a ghoulish character into their home on Christmas, No One. Then his superhuman abilities shine through his ability to know the strangers’ home very well, and understanding human nature as well as weapons, pushing the story into a slasher film with Jason (Friday the 13th Part 8) meets Darkman qualities. A few well-paced comical lines work best especially involving Joe’s pastime hobby and Pastor Peter (David Collins) and feuding sisters Suzy (Sarah Bishop) and Virginia (Janis McGavin) over fertility or lack of it, a subtle undertone in the film.
If one seeks another treat for surviving the holidays with family and knowing for some they prefer to give out coal, this movie might satisfy the numerous sweet traditions. Red Christmas, likely to help with tiresome carols, silly Hallmark movies, and endless wrapping with a healthy dose of Anderson’s lust for blood and violence, but whether it lasts as a favorite; time will only tell. Needless, great to see Wallace in another horror flick, as most recall her works in Cujo (1983) and The Howling (1981) and she stays around for almost of the film, no cameo role for her.
IMDb rating: 4.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10