They say that commercialism has turned Christmas into something terrifying, and Shudder’s latest original film Christmas Bloody Christmas takes that concept and just runs with it. From writer/director Joe Begos (VFW, Bliss), Christmas Bloody Christmas is another gritty action/horror film that feels like the basic killer Santa premise of so many Christmas horror films blended with the sci-fi horror of Terminator!
In a fun nostalgic opening, the movie shows us a TV as the channels are being changed, with a myriad of different programming. It settles on a commercial for the RoboSanta+, a robotic Santa that promises to replace the “degenerate mall Santa ” and be fun for the whole family. The ad boasts about how military technology was converted to civilian use to create these, however that ends up coming back to bite them.
We then meet Tori (Riley Dandy) and Sam (Sam Delich) as they’re getting off work on Christmas Eve and walk down to the pub to grab a drink. The movie spends a solid third of its runtime with these two characters just letting them be themselves. The looming threat of the killer Santa is the background, but it really gives us time to get to care about the characters and make them feel like real people.
Their back and forth, witty banter, and sexual tension feels very realistic for two people who work together and who see each other very often. Sure there are a ton of horror movie references thrown in there for the sake of the target audience. But unlike many other indie horror movies, the constant talking about movies never really feels forced or unnatural. It just feels like two regular people talking about something that interests them. Also the references are just esoteric enough that they trust the audience really knows horror.
The blending of RoboSanta+’s first kill with a sex scene is the perfect crescendo that turns this movie into the slasher that was promised. And from there the kills are numerous and incredibly creative and gory. Where this movie really shines is in its practical stunt work, effects, and gore.
While there’s always an actor playing the killer robot, he always moves in such a way that feels just uncanny valley enough to be creepy. And as the night goes on, and more of the outer layer comes off, RoboSanta+ slowly turns into something out of the final act of the original Terminator, and he’s scarier than ever in that form!
In a landscape that’s filled with too much CGI, it’s really refreshing to see things like car crash stunts and fire that looks like it’s really there. It also adds to the overall gritty tone this movie expertly exudes. Its characters feel like real people, and the danger and kills feel the same way.
It’s only real fault is the pacing comes to absolute halt between the second and third acts. Although this part of the movie gives us some great moments with Jeffrey Daniel Phillips as the sheriff who doesn’t believe that this killer robot really killed all these people. However, things pick up quickly enough for the final showdown, that is as much sci-fi action as it is slasher horror.
Christmas Bloody Christmas is a low budget, gritty slasher that doesn’t really try to be anything more than it is. You could read a commentary of commercialism or militarization from its basic plot points, but the movie never really tries to do anything but just give brutal kills and interesting characters. And it’s a must see for this Christmas season!
What are your favorite killer Santa movies? Let us know in the comments!
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