Craig Anderson brings horror to the holidays with his blood-soaked slasher Red Christmas, a savage throwback that decimates anything that breathes—in other words, it’s a bloody cocktail of shit-your-pants violence and it’s totally ridiculous. In this one, a mother must protect her family on Christmas Day from a demented stranger who is hell-bent on tearing them apart. And does he ever.
I can’t start this off without mentioning how wonderful it is to see Dee Wallace in the genre again—she’s absolutely one of the greats—and her role in Red Christmas is no throwaway part, either. Other than the brilliant amount of violence, Wallace really keeps the intensity of the film going, injecting power and emotion into a narrative surrounded by carnage. She puts this one on her shoulders and just runs with it. It’s fantastic.
And speaking of carnage, there’s no shortage of it here—in true slasher fashion, not a single character is safe, with each and every death being more absurd than the next. That’s the film’s biggest strength, too, brimming with over-the-top mayhem that channels some of the great slashers of old. So if you dig old school horror that kills first and asks questions later, then you’ll find a lot to love about Anderson’s Red Christmas. The story itself, although predictable, is straightforward and never wavers. In doing so, it lets the violence reign without ever slowing down the narrative and the film thrives because of it.
There were some issues though, and one of the big ones was that the villain, as freakishly powerful as he is, was hard to take seriously, and worse yet, he was far from scary. The reason being was that his terrifying presence—the dude is a total beast, covered head to toe in bandages and a cloak—is completely deflated simply by the way he talks; it’s distractingly weak and unintentionally comical, especially for a dude that can rip you in half. I think a simple tweak to his voice would have gone a long way, that or just let his actions speak for him.
And in keeping with the slasher tradition, the characters make some questionable decisions (aka they’re pretty stupid). Why would anyone in their right mind let a hulking monster of a dude who looks like he just walked out of Satan’s taint in their home? Especially on Christmas! That all said, there is a lot of fun to be had in Red Christmas and it’s all thanks to the bloody violence. It’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, but what it does do is take us back to the glory gory days of the ’80s when slashers ruled the genre. And what’s not to like about a bunch of people getting slaughtered by a psychopath on the holidays?
Red Christmas was reviewed out of the Fantasia Film Festival—find more coverage here.