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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Christmas Bloody Christmas: Review

Christmas Bloody Christmas Synopsis: It’s Christmas Eve and Tori (Riley Dandy) wants to get drunk and party, but when a robotic Santa Clause at a nearby toy store goes haywire and begins a rampant killing spree through her small town, she’s forced into a battle for survival.

An antiquated animatronic Santa morphs into a raging killing machine in the grindhouse genre film Christmas Bloody Christmas. I’ve always supported altering the Christmas spirit into something far more depraved. Vulgar comedies like Bad Santa and Violent Night took umbrage in depicting Santa Claus as an amoral anti-hero, while my favorite Christmas film, Batman Returns, cleverly flips holiday tenants of family and connection on their heads in a surprisingly melancholic manner.

Equally unhinged and nihilistic, Christmas Bloody Christmas is a fitting extension of that trend. Writer/director Joe Begos concocts a gore-ridden slasher bolstered by its vibrant aesthetics and spirited creativity.

Begos continues to be an auteur to watch for fans of the horror genre. Similar to his gruesome exploitation actioner VFW, Begos adopts an 80s synth-wave visual profile that never feels like a phony extension of the era’s filmmaking techniques. Every scene of Christmas Bloody Christmas is draped in dimly-lit neon hues, setting a dreary atmosphere where murder and bloodshed await around the corner. His lo-fi sensibilities and evocative camerawork, including several cleverly crafted POV shots, always find intriguing ways to enrich his low-budget assets into a captivating visual experience.

Once the animatronic Santa begins his unstoppable killing spree, Christmas Bloody Christmas morphs into an irresistible slasher. Begos is a true midnight movie master, composing an endless onslaught of creatively designed setpieces that creatively twist Yuletide cheer into murdering madness. From brutal axe massacres to a death-defying chase via a police cruiser, Begos injects dynamism in each clash while dressing his film in buckets of bloodshed.

Begos’ screenplay is more of a mixed bag. His sardonic comedic tone and amusingly unsentimental approach are an excellent fit for the material. Lead actress Riley Dandy also excels within the script’s approach, dispensing sharp one-liners as the narrative’s personable final goal. However, the film is easily at its weakest when setting up its one night of chaos. Begos lacks the grander social commentary or ingenious character-building to make his screenplay feel just as distinguished as his filmmaking approach.

Let’s be real though; Christmas Bloody Christmas isn’t vying for weighty revelations. Begos and company instead conjure a mean-and-lean, punk rock slasher that skillfully pays homage to its horror forefathers.

Christmas Bloody Christmas opens in theaters and on Shudder December 9th.


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