Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022) Review
Christmas Bloody Christmas doesn’t exactly get off to a great start, offering several faux commercials that aren’t nearly as witty as writer/director Joe Begos (VFW, Bliss) seems to think they are. The final one is for RoboSanta+, a robotic mall Santa based on military technology and appearing at your local mall.
It’s Christmas Eve and record store owner Tori (Riley Dandy, Interceptor, City of Gold) just wants to close up shop and meet up with the one-night stand she met arranged via Tinder. Robbie (Sam Delich, Spiderhead, The Marshes) who works for her behind the counter convinces her to blow him off and go drinking with him instead. They stop on the way to say hi to Lahna (Dora Madison, Night of the Babysitter, Alone with You) and Jay (Jonah Ray, Satanic Hispanics, Victor Crowley) who own a toy store that also features a RoboSanta+.
Needless to say, RoboSanta+ reverts back to its seek-and-destroy programming, grabs a convenient axe and kills Lahna and Jay. Tori and Robbie, on their way back from the bar, hear it but puts it down to wild sex. They go on their way unaware of what has happened, or that a piece of homicidal hardware is now stalking them.
Begos shot Christmas Bloody Christmas on 16MM film in order to get an authentic low-budget, 70s-80s look to it. It’s acool move and it does give the film the kind of grainy look that will have you thinking of To All a Goodnight and Christmas Evil. Unfortunately, he manages to drop the ball when it comes to several other important aspects of the film.
The killings in the toy store and the murder of Tori’s neighbours are both repeatedly intercut with scenes of Tori and Robbie that rob them of much of their effect. Especially the neighbour’s death’s which are interrupted by shots of the two of them having PG-13 sex. Because for all that Christmas Bloody Christmas’s characters talk about eating ass, pegging, etc, they still have sex with their underwear on.
Similarly, the leads are designed to be walking middle fingers to the mainstream. But when they talk about the music they like who do they namecheck? The Ramones, Soundgarden and Motorhead’s Lemmy. Unless that’s supposed to be irony it’s a major fail.
“Since I was a young kid I’ve dreamed of making both a crazy holiday horror movie unlike any other and a no-holds-barred killer robot flick, but never imagined I could make them the same movie”Joe Begos
Thankfully after the killer Claus finishes with the neighbours the film finds its footing and finally becomes the mashup of Silent Night Deadly Night and The Terminator we were hoping for with several fast-paced and bloody kills and an attack on a police station that leads to a final confrontation that takes the film out on a high note. Even if it does crib several of its best moments from the far superior Hardware.
There are also plenty of familiar faces in the cast of Christmas Bloody Christmas. That includes Kansas Bowling (Death Rider in the House of Vampires, Psycho Ape!) and Graham Skipper (Bad Apples, The Leech) as Tori’s sister and brother-in-law as well as Jeremy Gardner (After Midnight, The Battery) and Jeff Daniel Phillips (The Munsters, The Lords of Salem) as cops.
Christmas Bloody Christmas ends up feeling almost like a reworking of Bliss. It has the same reliance on neon-lit scenes as well as a female-led cast of sex and drug-obsessed characters. Unfortunately, it also has the same poor pacing with a hard-to-get-through first half leading into a wild last act that saves the film from disaster and makes it worth seeing.
Coming from a new or less talented director Christmas Bloody Christmas would probably have gotten a warmer reception from me. But coming from someone who has done much better and should have delivered a much better end product it’s a disappointment. Christmas Bloody Christmas will be available in selected theatres and on Shudder on December 9th via RLJE Films. And if you feel the need for more Santa slaughter, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles.