Red Christmas (2017)

Starring Dee Wallace, Geoff Morrell, Sarah Bishop

Directed by Craig Anderson

Now I know that we’re months away from that damned blessed holiday we all know as Christmas, so why in the holy hell am I reviewing a yuletide flick? Cause it was next up on my list, and not Santa’s list I might add. This one, titled Red Christmas is from director Craig Anderson, and it should provide enough entertainment to those yearning for a little filler time between now and when you’re ready to trample some moronic Black Friday shoppers in the hopes of snagging that severely underpriced blender for your Aunt Tillie. So grab yourself a cold beverage (no egg-nog, please) gather around the air conditioning and let’s carve this up like a piece of Tillie’s fruitcake…boy, does she have it coming this season.

Anderson obviously opted to eschew the “safe route” when it came to this particular slay-bell presentation, and toss a little hot-button issue dead in the middle of the film – all starting off with an explosion at an abortion clinic, and it unexpectedly saves the life of a severely disfigured infant whose life was just about to be terminated. Cut to many years later, and we’re at the home of a woman named Diane (Wallace), and her hopes of a quiet family holiday will not only be impeded by her family’s dysfunctional attitudes, but the arrival at the front door of a mysterious man known only as “Cletus.” Shrouded in a black cloak with his face covered and a voice that sounds as if he’s been gargling with battery acid, he only wishes to spend the holidays at Diane’s home – seeing the connection (and for those who’ll more than likely bitch that this is a spoiler – it’s really not). There is a backstory to this strange fellow, and before the presents are unwrapped, he’ll inflict a bit of holly-jolly hell upon the inhabitants inside the home.

Now what works here is the “slasher with an axe to grind” mentality – brutal, unforgiving – a psycho with an intent to commit the crimes that he’ll carry out. As for the abortion issue, it almost acts as a piano on a track star’s back, never letting the full speed of potentiality stretch its legs and show us all what it can accomplish. Wallace is her usual darling self, and I’d be safe to say that as a child, I wanted her to be my mommy after checking out films like E.T. and Cujo – she’s a bad-ass with a heart of gold, and her portrayal of such a woman in this film is no different. Another stand-out performance is that of Gerard Odwyer playing her son, and for a performer with Down’s Syndrome, his personality and on-screen presence is as powerful and entertaining as any I’ve seen in some time. The opportunity to complain about the dueling moods and issues that hold this film back a bit could be bandied about all damn day, but in the end this still is a pretty decent holiday-horror film, and one that I’d be happy to recommend to anyone ready to celebrate Festivus a little early this year – give this a spin, as it’s much better than a lump of coal or those friggin’ candy canes.

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Matt Boiselle

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