Nutcracker Massacre opens with a pervy delivery guy indulging his inner voyeur at the expense of Clara (Beatrice Fletcher, Croc!, The Legend of Jack and Jill) before a giant nutcracker doll (Christophe Monplaisir, Sandwiched) armed with a sharp icicle teaches him the error of his ways. That’s followed by the inevitable rewind to a couple of days earlier.
Clara’s Aunt Marie (Julie Stevens, Mega Lightning) invites her and her boyfriend Paul (Andy Dixon, Texas Radio, I’m Not Ready) to her place for the holidays. She accepts but for reasons unknown Clara is reluctant to tell her aunt that she dumped Paul for cheating on her. She stops along the way and buys a nutcracker from Dimitri (Patrick Bergin, The Kindred, Patriot Games) for her aunt. But when she arrives she finds she already has a life-sized one, and the one she bought has become a sugar plum faerie.
And that is about all the creepy activities director Rebecca Matthews (The Gardener, Cannibal Troll) and writer Joe Knetter (Strip Club Slasher, Blind) give us in the first act. To be fair we do get to see the delivery guy’s murder twice though. But this is another film from one of Scott Jeffrey’s production companies so that shouldn’t really be surprising. He has been putting more money and effort into some of his films lately, most, however, are still fairly cheap and talky assembly-line productions.
Nutcracker Massacre keeps laying the talky drama on, introducing Marie’s full-of-herself daughter Mellisa (May Kelly, Alice, Through the Looking, Pterodactyl) and her put-upon boyfriend James (Stephen Staley, Conjuring the Genie 2, Monsters of War). And, of course, Paul shows up uninvited to try and convince Clara to give him another chance. We get near endless talk from them while the occasional non-entity like the delivery guy or Paul’s side chick are introduced and killed off seconds later. Even James is quickly killed off and seems to be there just to show how strong the creature is, easily overpowering him despite his size and dishing out a death that lives up to the film’s title.
Sadly instead of at least building off of his death, Nutcracker Massacre brings back Bergen’s character so he can deliver a long, rather ridiculous story about the killer Christmas decoration’s origin to a couple of the characters. This is intercut with what’s going on back at the house, constantly interrupting and taking the tension out of everything.
Still, I was grateful for that throat slashing because otherwise, Nutcracker Massacre is pretty much bloodless with the creature usually strangling its victims and everything else being limited to some blood splashing around. The Nutcracker itself is at least an actor in a costume rather than CGI, but it’s a fairly uninspired one apart from the demonic-looking teeth it occasionally displays.
The basic idea could have been turned into a fun film, but Nutcracker Massacre really needed to lean into the absurdity of its concept and dial everything up to eleven. Unfortunately, unlike Jeffrey’s other holiday horror The Killing Tree which at least exploited the idea of a killer Christmas tree for some outrageous death scenes, this never gets outrageous enough to register on the scale at all.
It sticks to dull, bloodless kills and a bland, almost robotic killer that moves so slowly most of its victims should have been able to escape by walking quickly never mind running. The result is a film that plays out like a generic, low-quality, masked slasher film.