REVIEW: Red Christmas (2017)

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A family will experience an unforgettable holiday in this horror film from filmmaker Craig Anderson.

Widowed Diane is spending her last Christmas at the family home as she plans to sell the place. Joining her for the holiday are her brother Joe, daughters Suzy and Ginny, Suzy’s boyfriend Peter, Ginny’s husband Scott, and Diane’s son Gerry, who has Down’s syndrome, as well as youngest daughter Hope. Ginny is due to give birth soon while Suzy has been having trouble bearing a child, and on top of that, Diane gets berated for selling the house. However, on this night, family bickering will be the least of their problems.

A mysterious figure, decked out in a cloak and bandaged up, appears at the house. He calls himself Cletus. When he is invited in Diane’s home, he reads a letter intended for his mother, which ends up freaking Diane out. When Cletus is kicked out of the house, he hides in the forest. However, he hatches a plan to seek revenge and on that night, begins to stalk the family and kill them off one by one. Amid everything, a dark secret is soon to be revealed and things go from bad to even worse.

Australian filmmaker Craig Anderson crafted quite a tale that involves plenty of issues all within the holiday spirit of Christmas. They include the topics of abortion, disabilities, and even religion. Religion in fact plays an important part of the film, as the character of Peter, Suzy’s boyfriend, is a priest and when the film’s disfigured antagonist Cletus, begins his killing spree, he leaves a page of the Bible as a calling card, or more a stern warning about what’s to come.

Horror film veteran Dee Wallace, who also serves as a producer on the film, plays the widowed Diane as someone who no longer follows religion and is quite a tortured soul not only because of a secret that is pretty much predictable, but rather she gets berated by her family, with the exception of son Gerry, played by Gerard O’Dwyer. Sarah Bishop and Janis McGavin play the frenemy sisters Suzy and Ginny, who bicker one minute then act all friendly the next and while it seems like typical sibling rivalry, at times it does bring a bit of confusion if not a bit of annoyance at first. However, as the killings occur, it is clear they need each other to survive.

The SFX of the film is quite interesting as there are teeny bits of CGI but a good use of practical effects as well to complement the CGI. There are kills that seem a bit typical in horror films but there are quite some inventive death scenes as well. One victim gets pushed down to a blender and here, what starts with CGI ends up becoming a practical effect where fake blood shoots out of said victim’s eyes and another inventive death requires the use of a bear trap that overdoses on the gore a la the crazy horror films of Japan. When Cletus gets his big reveal, it is quite hideous but it does have a bit of looking quite farfetched. Nevertheless, it does reveal quite a lot about the not-so-innocent family.

If you are one of those who like the meshing of Christmas and horror films, then you might want to dream of a Red Christmas, which fits the title perfectly. A good cast meshed with some decent SFX with a nice twist in the story makes this for quite an effort by filmmaker Anderson.

WFG RATING: B

Artsploitation Films present a Craig FX/Red Christmas Ltd. Pty. (Australia) production in association with Devilworks. Director: Craig Anderson. Producers: Craig Anderson, Belinda King, Bryan Moses, and Dee Wallace. Writer: Craig Anderson. Cinematography: Douglas James Burgdorff. Editing: Craig Anderson.

Cast: Dee Wallace, Geoff Morrell, Sarah Bishop, David Collins, Janis McGavin, Bjorn Stewart, Gerard O’Dwyer, Deelia Meriel, Sam Campbell, Anthony Jensen.

Artsploitation Films will be releasing this film on Blu-Ray, DVD, and VOD on October 17th. Special features of the Blu-Ray/DVD will include a feature-length commentary with Dwriter-director Craig Anderson, interviews with Dee Wallace, Gerald O’Dwyer and Craig Anderson; bloopers and more.

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