Letters to Satan Claus (2020) Review
Letters to Satan Claus is SyFy’s send-up of Hallmark’s Christmas films. You know the ones where the cynical career woman from the big city ends up in some small town and falls for some inbred and brain-dead but hot local and realizes her real purpose in life is to raise kids and fetch beers.
As a child, Holly Winters (Maya Misaljevic, A Christmas Exchange) responded to her parents having to cancel the family vacation by writing a letter to Santa. Only she worded it very ambiguously, “I just want my parents to go away”. And she misspelled Santa. The note went to Satan and her parents met a nasty end.
Now known as Holly Frost (Karen Knox, Slo Pitch) has moved to the city and is a TV reporter and up for a promotion to anchor. But her cynicism and negative public image may get in the way. So her boss is sending her and Cameraman Sam (Franco Lo Presti) to her hometown, Ornaments, to cover their Winter Festival of Wonders. Do I need to tell you people start dying again?
Letters to Satan Claus wastes no time in establishing Holly as a miserable bitch who takes pride in her investigative reports that get businesses shut down. She also snaps at colleagues for saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays and is happy to hear her cute cameraman was recently widowed.
Of course, she’s love-struck as soon as she meets Chris Pringle (Joseph Cannata, Bed of the Dead aka The Dwelling). However, the fact he has a daughter Faith (Jessica Clement, Kill Order, V.C. Andrews’ Heaven)is something of a deal-breaker. Even if his brother and Chad (Alex Harrouch, Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Scarehouse) encourages it. Instead, she gets drunk and writes another letter.
I’m not exactly sure how telling Satan (Jana Peck, The Toll) “Fuck you” gets him to appear. Seems if dissing the Prince of Darkness was all it took church congregations would be getting wiped out by the score. Exactly how Holly has the authority to give Christmas to Satan isn’t made clear either, but she does. And she’s going to have to take it back to save Ornaments from being destroyed.
At first unleashing demonic death and destruction on characters with names like Sheriff Noel (Michael Xavier, 88, KIller High), Joy Wreath (Rashaana Cumberbatch) and Mayor Danica Bells (Miriam McDonald, Sea Beast, Degrassi: The Next Generation) doesn’t really seem like a bad thing. Especially when they live in a town whose biggest problem is “vaping teen hooligans”. It’s the opposite of the usual situation in films like this. Rather than being such assholes that we want them dead, the residents of Ornaments are so squeaky clean they’re unbearable.
However, director Emma Jean Sutherland (Ponysitters Club, After the Storm) and writer Michael Zara (Major Crimes) do manage to pull off a scene involving little kids and gift wrapped boxes of body parts that have some real impact. There’s also a nice kill involving a snowman. But for the most part, with plenty of off-screen kills and a Satan that looks more like Krampus than the Lord of Hell, Letters to Satan Claus doesn’t deliver the horror. It’s standard SyFy fare and nothing more.
And as a parody of Hallmark’s celebrations of everything Ho Ho Hokey, it’s not particularly funny either. Apart from the ridiculous names and a few overdone characterizations, it’s mostly played straight. I was expecting Letters to Satan Claus to be more savage in its humour. And its horror too for that matter.
Letters to Satan Claus certainly isn’t as bad as the other two seasonal horrors I’ve seen this year, Slayed and Toys of Terror, not that that is saying much. But it is amusing enough to be watchable.
Letters to Satan Claus is airing on SyFy. You can check their Facebook page and website for airings or on-demand viewing options.