Review by Sean Boelman
Christmas horror has been done dozens of times before, and while some films try to put a new spin on the genre, others stick with the formula and deliver some old-school thrills. Joe Begos’s Christmas Bloody Christmas does the latter, with plenty of festive kills to satisfy your horror cravings this holiday season.
In the movie, a town is terrorized on Christmas Eve by a robotic Santa Clause toy that goes haywire and sets off on a brutal, vicious killing spree. It’s not the first time there has been a movie about a killer Santa, but Begos manages to make his stand out with a retro vibe and a commitment to shocking the audience.
The film clocks in at a lean, mean eighty minutes, meaning that we get a bit of an introduction before being thrown straight into the mayhem and carnage. The last hour is an absolute bloodbath that doesn’t let up, but those who are familiar with Begos’s past work would expect nothing less.
Of course, this is the type of movie that lives and dies by its kills, and while there’s nothing particularly unique about any of the situations, they are more than well-executed enough to get a guttural reaction out of the audience. The practical effects are pretty awesome, and the score does an excellent job of setting the tone.
There is also a bit of a sense of humor found in the film that cinephiles are sure to appreciate, thanks to a wealth of movie references in the first act. That said, the movie takes itself just seriously enough — with plenty of moments that are precisely f*cked up enough to be both disturbing and make you laugh uncomfortably
Admittedly, there isn’t a ton of character development in the film, but there doesn’t need to be much for it to work. In the vein of many of the campy slasher movies to which this pays homage, it’s more about the killer than the victims. Fans are coming to this wanting to see a killer robot Santa, and that is precisely what they will get.
That being said, there are still some fun turns in the cast. Jeff Daniel Phillips, who is best known for his roles in several of Rob Zombie’s movies, plays the town sheriff, and does so in a way that is enjoyably exaggerated. Sam Delich is also surprisingly charming in a role that easily could have felt overly douchey.
Christmas Bloody Christmas is just as much fun as one would expect from a movie with this premise. There’s a reason that Joe Begos has amassed such a cult following in the horror community, and this might be his most fun flick yet.
Christmas Bloody Christmas hits theaters, VOD, and Shudder on December 9.