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'Christmas Bloody Christmas' Is Not as Cool as It Wants You To Think It Is

By Lindsay Traves | Film | December 7, 2022 |

By Lindsay Traves | Film | December 7, 2022 |


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“Hell Ya,” “F*** Ya,” “F***in’ Suck D*** and C***,” etc. That’s the vibe we’re bringing to the latest holiday horror feature on Shudder, sometimes for better but mostly for worse. Christmas Bloody Christmas is the next in writer/ director Joe Begos’s neon assault on cinema and for the uninitiated, it’s another solid enough midnight slasher full of cheer-worthy gore and a bunch of swears.

This one would have to play the midnight crowd lest a prime-time audience be accosted with the bleeps that would need to coat this movie’s dialogue. Riley Dandy and Sam Delich star as Tori and Robbie, a record shop owner and her employee who swap filthy talk about their sex lives. On Christmas eve, Robbie wants to pull Tori away from her sad internet date for a night of drinking and, well, messing around. Before they hit the bar, they stop by their friends’ toyshop to share a whiskey and check out the recalled robotic Santa Clause waiting to be picked up. The Santa-bot soon comes to life, brandishing an axe and slicing and dicing its way through the town until zeroing in on the wily Tori. Christmas eve turns into a night of blood-soaked mayhem as the record store owner tries her best to stay alive.

Begos’s Christmas horror feature is fun, albeit one note. It reads almost like a music video in that you could imagine it playing via projector on the back wall of a bar while metal music screamed over it, drowning out its wicked synth score. The story is thin and the conversation insufferable, but the neon aesthetic, gore, and reminiscence of 80s campy horror make it visually appealing. It’s indebted to Silent Night, Deadly Night , Friday the 13th, and The Terminator but it’s more shallow recreation than it is creative reference. The POV kills lend to its blend of originality and homage and it earns the rest of its midnighter stripes by being stuffed with a few slasher gags begging you to cheer. The most compelling bit is the cold open filled with fake cable programs that are reminiscent of the berserk vibes of WNUF Halloween Special and its inspirations.

It’s hard to ignore how cool the movie wants you to think it is. Unlikeable protagonists are always welcome, but Christmas Bloody Christmas seems to want you to be endeared by its irritating leads. The actors’ likeability is what elevates the hollow characters enough to make you root for them, and their performances hold the flimsy setup together. Riley Dandy does so much work with what she’s given to create a final girl type you still want to see win, even though she spends most of her screen time regurgitating tired takes on music and ensuring you know she’s horny. The “cool girl” of it all gets exhausting really quickly, but Dandy does enough work to get Tori just adjacent to her cohorts in the “covered in blood and lighting a cigarette” genre. By making the villain a robotic Santa, it’s robbed of any personality and the hollow heroes don’t do enough to carry the extra weight.

Christmas Bloody Christmas isn’t likely to bash its way into being a staple on anyone’s holiday horror watch list. It’s derivative, trashy, and feels like a DTV sequel to a middling franchise. Begos might be a one-trick-pony but for fans of that trick, this is a worthy new addition to his filmography. Holiday horror rocks and there’s never a shortage of super fans willing to watch a childhood symbol tear sh** up with a sharp weapon, but with so many great Santa-slashers, its hard to clear the deck for a robo-Kringle whose stomp is worse than his slice.

Christmas Bloody Christmas hits Shudder December 9, 2022