It's Christmas time and what better way to celebrate than with a Christmas themed horror movie? After remembering 2006's surprisingly enjoyable 'Black Christmas' remake, I figured I'd give this direct to DVD movie a shot too. (However, I wasn't sure if it was a remake or what it was, before I watched it.) I also had to weigh in the fact that I've seen just about every other Christmas horror there is, I needed something new and something outside of the usual holiday fodder. Going a little further back in this story, I originally saw this movie on the shelf at Wal-Mart. Before that, I hadn't heard anything about it. With the sheer amount of stuff coming out direct to DVD and direct to certain retailers, it's hard to keep up. The box cover intrigued me and the cast was interesting enough to make me send a reminder text to myself to research it later. It looked like a gritty, slasher with no real in depth storyline, just a 'check your brain at the door' popcorn movie. The reviews were decent and the trailer and screen caps ultimately made my decision. Somehow, this one wasn't in high demand on Netflix, so I was able to get it for the week before Christmas. Upon settling in and starting the DVD, I got a little nervous. The opening sequence basically gave up the face of the killer Santa. The girl, tied up and bloody, turned me off and the first kill involving Christmas lights, was kind of silly. What happened as time went on was a curiosity to see how the rest of it would play out. That and the fact that I realized it was a reboot or re imaging of the classic 'Silent Night, Deadly Night' from 1984. The realization came during a scene where a young man was talking to a senile, mute old man. The old man suddenly becomes very animated and verbal and warns him of the deadly, killer Santa. This scene is almost carbon-copy from the original. However, the original scene was much more frightening. I'll let you in on a little secret though, I only caught about one more directly copied kill in this movie.... but I'm not an expert on the original.
The basic plot line here, goes like this: Small town police officer Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King) is tormented by something in her past and is supposed to have Christmas off. She awakens to a call from her boss, Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell) wanting her to come in to work. It would seem that the officer that was supposed to be working her shift, has strangely not shown up. Soon she discovers that he and another woman have been murdered. However, it doesn't take long to realize that the murderer is dressed up like Santa and seems to have an ax to grind. (ALL pun intended.) The bodies start to pile up, but no real leads. There is an annual Santa parade in town that has created an overflow of men in red suits with beards. The only possible lead that they have is a man by the name of Santa Jim (Donal Logue). After taking him in to custody, Sheriff Cooper thinks things are all wrapped up, but things are about to get so much worse. Aubrey realizes that all of the murder victims are 'guilty' of something and have been sent a gift before getting murdered. Worse yet, her father received one of those gifts too! But her father is a good man and a former cop, why would he be targeted? The plot thickens. All of this is leading up to a big climactic showdown at the police head quarters involving Santa, the sheriff, Aubrey, Santa Jim and a flame thrower. No, I'm not kidding.
Before I go any further, I have to point out one thing with this movie. I'm guessing that the director, Steven C. Miller ('The Aggression Scale') must be a Rob Zombie fan. The use of a shaky cam during kills, was intended to show the power of the killer Santa. Rob Zombie used the same tactic, to much better effect, in his 'Halloween' remake. In this movie, it just gets kind of annoying. Too much of a good thing, I suppose. Back to the review.... The opening scene gives you a small taste of who the killer is, without giving up all the goods. As the story moves on, it becomes more and more clear who's behind the crazy Santa get up. But, by the end, if you TOTALLY missed the reveal.... there's a complete explanation of everything. I don't know if that was a good thing or not, but it exists and that's that.
It may sound like I didn't like this movie, but it's kind of the opposite. I actually quite enjoyed it. 'Silent Night' had a nice little cast, the Santa costume was genuinely creepy and the story was solid (although a re-hash). The biggest problem with this movie was the shaky cam and the somewhat silly kills. The wood chipper was the worst dum-dum moment. I suppose you could qualify it as an homage to 'Fargo', but it really came off as a complete waste of film. It was unbelievable and over the top and put this movie in the b-grade category because of it. This part also made me wonder how many damn Santa suits this killer had? Because by the end of the wood chipping, he was covered in blood. Either he is a dry cleaner on the side or he owns stock in a Santa suit only costume store. (I'm guessing he also made several more masks, but they just don't show him doing it.) All in all, a 3 out of 5 star outing for Christmas time. A movie that I would recommend, if you're all done with family time and want to take out some aggression. It is your typical 80's style slasher movie.... complete with revenge back story, a good mask, original kills and a little nudity for fun. I would actually consider adding this one to the collection, just to have it around for next year's Christmas break. This would fit in well with 'Santa's Slay' and 'Black Christmas' (2006). Don't let anything else you've heard about this sway your opinion, this is a simple and solid horror movie for fans of horror. Just enough cheese to top your nacho's and just enough gore to not make you throw them up. Merry Christmas!
If you dug this one and one some other non-traditional suggestions, let me recommend 'Santa's Slay', 'Die Hard' 1 and 2, 'Black Christmas' (2006), 'Gremlins' and 'Christmas Evil' (for some varied holiday themed movies)