When I was younger, it seemed as though I had all the time in the world. A day would take forever to pass and my summer vacations from school felt like an eternity. Now? Now, it feels as though a complete week passes in the blink of an eye. It is already October 1st, even though it feels like I was celebrating New Years Day just yesterday. We have yet to reach Halloween, so I don’t want to rush time away any faster, but I could not pass up the opportunity to check out a new Christmas-themed horror flick, Craig Anderson’s Red Christmas.
Diane (Dee Wallace, Cujo, The Frighteners) is having her entire family over for, what she plans to be, the best Christmas ever. As the entire family is enjoying their holiday dinner and are all set to open their gifts, an unexpected stranger knocks on the door. After reading a letter address to his mother, the uninvited guest upsets Diane and is kicked out of the house. He hasn’t received what he’s come for, however, and he decides to take it out on the entire family…
Holiday horror films are among some of my favorites. I love slashers that take place during the Christmas season — Silent Night, Deadly Night, Black Christmas — and I can now say that after my viewing of Red Christmas, I have another one to add to the top of that list.
Writer, director, producer Craig Anderson has managed to take a tiny budget and make an amazing film with it. The jack of all trades has proven that with a little experience and a lot of creativity, it doesn’t take much to create an effective horror movie. The cinematography and lighting are flawless, the script is highly impressive with original ideas, and the acting is among the best I’ve ever seen.
Almost 35 years after Cujo, Dee Wallace returns to the role of a mother fighting to save the lives of her children. I haven’t seen a film starring Wallace in many a moon now, so I was concerned that this project would turn into another lackluster indie flick that brings in some star power just to gain some attention, delivering a forgettable performance from said star. I could not have been more wrong! Dee Wallace is a tremendous talent and I was a fool for ever doubting that she’d bring anything but her A game. I loved her character and her performance was impeccable from start to finish.
The same can be said for the entire cast of Red Christmas, quite frankly. The horror genre and the actors in it tend to deliver some of the most over-the-top reactions to the simplest of situations. Sure, being chased by a crazed killer is a traumatizing occurrence, but too many have either oversold the situation or completely fell short of any emotion at all. It is quite the contrary throughout Anderson’s slasher and I could not have been more impressed. Every reaction felt extremely natural, whether laughing or crying, whispering or screaming, making this one that much more enjoyable. Geoff Morrell (Rogue), David Collins, Sarah Bishop, Janis McGavin, Bjorn Stewart, and Gerard Odwyer rounded out the cast. While I am unfamiliar with all of them, Morrell the exception, I was extremely pleased watching their characters develop and interact with each other, a potpourri of personalities, for the entirety of the film’s 82 minutes.
We can’t talk about a slasher flick without mentioning two things — the antagonist and the kills themselves! Red Christmas features a killer, completely covered in bandages and a long, draping cloak. Although he has quite a bit of dialogue and camera time in the film, we really have no idea what he looks like, until he is finally revealed in the film’s final act. I won’t speak much on that reveal, but I will say that the character is quite original for a genre that has seen it all. The motivation behind the killer’s actions are a bit deeper than your average psycho, which again is a testament to Anderson’s intelligent script and rather fitting for a film about Christmas, a holiday that has deep religious meaning, whether we’ve forgotten that or not.
The ways in which the characters, many whom we’ve actually grown to care about to some degree, meet their demise are pretty memorable. Listen, it’s 2017, we’ve seen everything we could possibly see as far as ‘ways to die in a horror film.’ That doesn’t mean we still can’t appreciate a blender to the back of the skull or an axe ripping a body completely in half. This is especially true when the film contains all practical effects and those effects look as good as they do in Red Christmas. Craig Anderson has been directing television shows and short films for close to 20 years. It appears that in that time, he’s made some very talented friends, who, again, know how to make a miniscule budget seem like millions of dollars. The entire special effects team did an incredible job and every kill will make even the most jaded gore-fiend out there feel all warm inside… like opening a gift on Christmas morning.
If you love holiday slasher flicks as much as I do, you need to grab yourself a copy of this film for your collection. Red Christmas has easily climbed to the top of my holiday horror list, after one viewing, and I am confident it will do the same for you. Be sure to purchase a copy of the film on Blu-ray or DVD on Tuesday, October 17 from Artsploitation Films. The Blu-ray comes packed with extras, including interviews, bloopers, and more.
I give this one 5 jars of peanuts out of 5.