UK Release Date TBC
Good tidings to you dear reader. Once again it’s the season (of evil) so let us take a look at what sort of blood soaked stocking fillers are on offer. As you have probably noticed over the years the low rent horror film listings have become chock full of evil Santa movies. Whether it’s the horned silhouette of Krampus in various guises or simply another killer dressed in red and white these stories are numerous. This Norwegian effort falls into the latter category and so there have to be comparisons drawn with festive favourites like Christmas Evil and Silent Night, Deadly Night and its sequels. And while I do enjoy the awkward thrills of ‘garbage day’ personally I’m all about the festive opening chapter of Tales from Crypt – it’s got brevity. Unfortunately however the film at hand is mostly inspired by a different kind of seasonal slasher.
Maybe you sat down to watch that very film just recently yourself during the Autumn months. After all it’s a classic with many sequels and remakes as well a well received sequel doubling as a reboot in 2018. I’m of course talking about John Carpenter’s Halloween, a film that has always inspired a deluge of half baked and ill advised rip-offs. In this case the references are clear since it’s less a story about Christmas and more another dull and lethargic escaped lunatic story. Christmas Blood‘s inspiration is worn on its fur trimmed sleeves. But the stretches of original content in between all the wannabe Michael Myers moments are made up almost entirely of filler scenes involving a group of doomed teenage girls at a party.
The opening shock sequence fails to make any real impact as a man dressed as Saint Nick stalks people on Christmas Eve. He’s got a naughty list, which I suppose suggests someone thought about some of the obligatory holiday content at least, although it’s never clear exactly how he chose the names of his initial victims. But the authorities get lucky and one of police officers manages to shoot him (six times). Of course this is the first act so it doesn’t kill the guy and he’s locked away in the bug house, where he’s later described by a dubious police psychiatrist as ‘evil’. It’s all very forensic. The setup does at least tantalise us with the prospect of an unhinged officer chasing down the killer when he inevitably escapes, but to draw any real comparisons to Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis would be insulting.
Later fresh victims begin to assemble as various friends gather to get drunk and smoke pot at a party. It’s not even a very festive affair and this could be any time of the year, they just get high and dance around like idiots. Who are these characters? Well one is Swedish, one is Australian, one is mute… none of them have actual personalities and these are surface details. The size of the cast doesn’t help. While these initial three might have been a reasonable trio of protagonists the party keeps getting larger as the night goes on. More friends arrive later some scuzzy boys are invited following a Tinder search. The glimpses of development hinted at when they talk about the house owner’s mother committing suicide are never expanded on, which means the only hint of depth here is in a throwaway dialogue scene.
The movie at least boasts some interesting locations since the story is shot on location. It’s a real Norwegian city complete with snow mobiles and deserted night time streets. The story should have used this local scenery to build some atmosphere since it’s a pretty striking place to look at. Someone involved must have had a sense of style as they copied the Stranger Things intro crawl, but there’s not much flair to be found later on. Even the electronic score is wasted and they opt instead for repetitive and obnoxious noise instead of proper horror movie melodies. A lot of stuff is thrown into the blender and some of it merges together. But like the ensemble of pointless characters it’s all just thrown together without much creative thought.
The plot itself jumps between different time periods as it’s explained that before being caught ‘Father Christmas’ had been out slaying on the same night for many years. The grizzled ex-cop who stopped him and a new fresh faced detective must figure out what his motives are before he can strike again. Or so you’d think. Most of the time they just sit around drinking coffee out of the same plastic cups waiting for someone to be murdered. Despite the possibilities of a story in which crimes span between 1998 to 2011 and beyond they never really develop any of the heroes or the villain himself. He just shows up and gives a mildly threatening ‘ho ho ho’ before going to work with an axe. Beyond the Santa-suit it’s never clear what the real connection with the holiday is. There are a lot of simple tropes here but nothing is capitalised on.
I’d liked to have seen him escape captivity using his toy making skills or attacking the naughty boys and girls with some seasonal panache. Instead there are a few mishandled jump scares and sudden splashes of gore which fail to offer any real shock value. It’s not even clear why he kills people that aren’t on his list or why the police are so bad at figuring out where he’s going to appear next. There’s never any attempt the criminal profiling or buddy cop clichés that a boilerplate story like this needs. Like so much of the narrative all the real details are just missing entirely. It’s all so perfunctory and dull in a way that drains any suspense from the proceedings. The script is more concerned with montages of drunk revelry that seem to go on forever, and suggesting this has bad pacing would be an understatement. Treat yourself this Christmas and avoid this unwanted visitor.