Every now and then we get two similar movies that come out so close to one another that their legacies are often tied to one another. Think of 2011 when we were given Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached were released within six months of one another or when The Illusionist and The Prestige came out within a month of each other in the fall of 2006. Christmas Bloody Christmas, the new, super indie Santa slasher flick from Joe Begos, certainly shares a lot of similarities with Violent Night but safe to say not many people will be thinking about this one compared to the David Harbour franchise.
This film focuses on record store owner Tori (Riley Dandy) who wants to spend her Christmas Eve drinking and partying with friends but those plans go awry when an animatronic Santa Claus in a toy store comes to life and begins murdering everyone he comes across. I love a good slasher movie and I love a good Christmas movie so this sounded right up my alley. Fans of slashers will certainly get a kick out of this modern throwback to one of cinema’s most beloved genres. While certainly charming and ending on a high note, Christmas Bloody Christmas was a bit of a letdown as it never truly elevates itself to being as much fun as the premise suggests.
At a refreshing hour-twenty minute run time, the film takes a surprisingly long time to get going. The bulk of the first half of the film is spent on Tori talking sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll with her employee/friend Robbie (Sam Delich) with brief cameos from other friends and family while getting snippets of the killer Santa. When I say the first half of the film is slow, I mean it is slooooooooooooow. With little action or engaging dialogue it leaves the viewer in a limbo of “we all know where this is going, when is it gonna get there?” Between the mumblecore conversations and shallow focused camera work it feels very much like a low budget indie flick.
Once the killing starts happening the film starts to pick up though for a horror film of this spirit it goes pretty easy on the blood, guts, and brutality. That may seem like a messed up thing to think but nobody seeing this in theaters is seeing it for the plot. The absurdity of everything certainly escalates as the movie goes on, the final ten minutes in particular. By the end I found myself laughing more at how the film was being dragged out and the amount of ways the filmmaker managed to keep it going. The theater I was in felt like they shared that sentiment as the ridiculousness of it all was contagious.
This isn’t a great film, that’s obvious. But there’s a great film in here somewhere. In my opinion the film was lacking supporting characters that brought anything of value. Some good comedic relief was needed and Dandy is constantly asked to carry every scene by herself and it just isn’t a winning formula. I’d also love to see the film have a little more fun with the fact that Santa Claus is an axe murderer. Give me some campy jokes or some one-liners before he smokes somebody. That being said, I can see there being a cult audience for this film and if somehow some way they’re able to get the funding for a sequel I would love to see Begos and team get a second crack at this with more of a budget. We need more blood, more guts, better kills, more jokes, and larger than life characters that aren’t so obviously future victims.
Horror fans should get a kick out of this and whenever it comes out on streaming it should start to gain more of a following but in the meantime Christmas Bloody Christmas is playing in select theaters and could be a holiday treat if all you want for Christmas is bad slasher vibes.
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