Opening a film with a character, in this case, Samuel (Cody Wise), writing an email to invite friends to a gathering where he promises to reveal something. Something connected to a dark secret in their past. Something that can only to be told face to face. DEAD BY CHRISTMAS is far from the first film, to begin with a scene like this. Of course, he soon ends up dead and we move into the film’s main story.
One year later Carla (Holly Bonney) and Sister Mary Nicholas (Dawn Streeck) have brought the group together for a Christmas celebration to honor him and what he’d done for them in life. All of them were raised in the same orphanage and were abused by Father LeDoux (Vince Rodriguez) and Sam had been a source of support for all of them. Soon enough a killer in a Santa suit is picking them off one by one.
DEAD BY CHRISTMAS is not a very original film, borrowing heavily from films like SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT and a host of other slashers. This isn’t a bad thing by itself. The fact it doesn’t do it very well, on the other hand, is.
Despite only running an hour it’s so talky it feels padded. The cast isn’t nearly good enough to salvage the dialogue either, making it very hard to sit through. Making it harder still are the moments where the sound gets out of sync. The film is actually pretty rough in the visual department as well, with the picture quality being distinctly poor at times.
Both director Armand Petri and writer Art Arutyunyan have a large list of credits as writers, directors, and producers. You would think at some point at least one of them would notice the film’s issues and do something. Instead, they released it as is, looking like an amateur backyard epic. I know $25,000 isn’t a large budget, but look at what BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN did for $1,000 for a comparison.
On the plus side, it does have practical effects and a couple of inventive kills. Also, the Louisiana setting gives it a different look for a Christmas film. But for the most part DEAD BY CHRISTMAS is a mess.
DEAD BY CHRISTMAS is available on Amazon, Vimeo and probably a few other streaming outlets from Reel Nightmare Films.