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Review: Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

Directed by: Joe Begos

Premise: On Christmas Eve, a robotic Santa Claus turns violent and sets out on a murderous rampage.

What Works: The 1980s produced a crop of killer Santa Claus movies including Silent Night, Deadly Night and Christmas Evil. 2022’s Christmas Bloody Christmas is an homage to those films by way of The Terminator and it has a sleazy but fun neo-grindhouse vibe. The movie posits that a military armament company has diversified and turned their killer robots into animatronic Santa Clauses that are featured at malls and toy stores. This particular model goes haywire and starts killing everyone in its path. When Christmas Bloody Christmas is in full blown slasher mode it is brutal and relentlessly paced but it is also highly stylized. The movie is lit with neon colors and the cinematography uses some unusual angles. It’s also a very musical film with a mix of a synth score and hard rock songs that give the picture an edgy but elegant tone. However, the pleasant surprise of Christmas Bloody Christmas is its opening. The first third of the movie focuses on a pair of record store coworkers played by Riley Dandy and Sam Delich. The two of them have an obvious sexual tension and their banter is really fun but also naturalistic. This section plays like a scene from Richard Linkater’s Before trilogy and it gives the film some wit and a pair of likable characters.

What Doesn’t: Christmas Bloody Christmas is part of a trend of pictures that reconstruct the low budget aesthetic of horror films that were distributed on VHS in the 1980s. That quality is found in the neon color palate and the synth score but also in the low-definition image. Christmas Bloody Christmas was shot on Super 16mm film, which is true to the era and genre that the filmmakers pay tribute to, but when viewed on a high-definition screen the picture becomes extremely grainy and occasionally murky. Christmas Bloody Christmas owes a lot to 1984’s The Terminator. Christmas Bloody Christmas goes beyond homage especially in the end which blatantly imitates the conclusion of the 1984 movie. However, Christmas Bloody Christmas misses some of what made The Terminator a great movie. Christmas Bloody Christmas is a stripped-down slasher movie and it trades perspicuity and relentlessness for depth and humanity. There’s no meaning to all this carnage and many characters are introduced only to be killed in the next scene. While that base survivalism may be the point, it keeps the film from making a bigger impression.  

Disc extras: Various streaming and video on demand services.

Bottom Line: Christmas Bloody Christmas is a nasty but fun piece of holiday horror. It’s rough around the edges and its influences are obvious but Christmas Bloody Christmas is confidently and skillfully made. 

Episode: #932 (December 25, 2022)