There is just something about Christmas and horror that go great together. Maybe it is the getting together of families that drive people over the edge or the pressures of debt. Whatever it is, the two go hand and hand, especially when it comes to movies. Red Christmas is the latest in the line of Xmas themed horror films to come out, but it does things a bit differently. The film takes place in Australia, so there is a severe lack of snow, which throws the feeling of the movie off right from the start. The idea behind Red Christmas is to “borrow” the core premise of You’re Next, place it at Christmas and spice it up with some abortion controversy. Does it work? A bit of yes and a bit of no, unfortunately.
We start off Red Christmas with a bang. An unseen mother is having an abortion, and the bomber has come in to blow the place up. In the confusion, the attacker steals the mother’s aborted fetus, which was alive and raises it as his own for 20 years.
After 20 years have passed, Cletus the walking fetus seeks out his mother at Christmas time. The mother, played by Dee Wallace, has her entire family over for Christmas. You have the usual stock characters. The closeted gay priest, the stoner Uncle, the gothy sister, the preppy sister and the mean sister. The only one of merit is the wonderfully talented Gerard Odwyer, who plays the brother Jerry. As they are about to open presents, Cletus shows up to meet his mother, but she wants none of it and throws him out. However, not before giving him a can of peanuts (the peanuts have nothing to do with the story, but I thought I would mention it as it is such a weird gift to give a stranger).
Cletus is rightfully distraught and decides he is not having any of it and goes back to the house to kill off every single person in gory fashion. It is really going to be a red Christmas.
Red Christmas does get some things right. First up is the use of practical effects for most of the kills. There is a touch of visual effects on some of them, but for the most part, the kills are good old fashion practical style. When you do see the kills, the blood is flying. However, a bunch of the deaths occurs off camera or quickly flashed.
Another thing that Red Christmas does well is the acting from everyone involved, which is to say a lot as the characters act pretty dumb at times. Dee Wallace certainly brings her acting chops to the table, but it is Gerard Odwyer who stole the show for me. It just goes to show that a person with mental disabilities does not have to let that stop them from doing what they want to do. Kudos to Mr. Odwyer.
Unfortunately, Red Christmas falters in the story department. The basic premise is easy enough to follow, but the execution is lacklustre. We have many characters making dumb ass decisions to serve up the story. It brings the viewer out of the experience and has you rolling your eyes too many damn times.
Red Christmas is like a poorly wrapped gift. It is a hastily put together gift, but it is the thought that counts. Unless the gift is peanuts; that is just dumb.
Red Christmas could have been the next big Christmas horror flick, but instead, it is just another slasher that does a few things right but lacks a properly formed story to hold it up. The film had a showing at this year’s Fantasia festival, and I am interested in knowing how it did. If you happened to check it out, let me know what you thought in the comments below.