Reviews | Written by Scott Clark 07/11/2017

RED CHRISTMAS

Too often the modern genre pays lip service to its classic heroines giving them bitesize parts just big enough to dodge the "cameo" label. These parts usually result in some badass fan appeasement (think Carrie Fisher in Sorority Row, Michelle Pfieffer in Dark Shadows, or even Barbara Crampton in You're Next) but are thin on good dialogue and decent stuff to do. Red Christmas, written and directed by Craig Anderson, benefits from a great supporting cast and a solid approach to the family dynamic but make no mistake this is Dee Wallace's film. The script was written with a clear appreciation for her long career playing tough characters, but also a wariness of this being horror fan fodder made to exploit Wallace's following and automatic viewership. There is a clear desire to deliver a great rounded horror experience.

In some ways that could put people off. As a schlocky slasher its both heightened and hampered by its sincerity. As a tension building thriller it’s shot in the foot by its humour, especially in the weightier scenes. The worst thing about the film is probably the costume worn by the intruder, which maroons him somewhere between the ghost of Christmas future and a leper. He really sticks out as the most amateur part of a film, which does pretty well at concealing its tiny budget. But overall its a perfect example of black comedy: funny but in a stomach-kicking kinda way.

Gore hounds will be surprised at just how schlocky Red Christmas is willing to be. Anderson keeps the gory extent of his festive mean-streak pretty much under wraps until a genuinely shocking first kill throws the film into shameless ‘80s territory. After that things only get worse/better. The power is cut and suddenly the film's only lighting comes from festive lights. The murders are emotionally charged thanks to the great bond between cast members and a snappy script that introduces each with an affectionate tongue in its cheek. You're Next tried to do a similar thing but its family wasn’t well enough established, or likable.

Underneath the warm, if cynical, family sentiment, Red Christmas is a dark and luridly coloured home invasion film. Anderson is a stylish purveyor of thrills and chills with a ruthless approach to his charcters. Which is great because it means Wallace's increasingly desperate but dangerous matriarch is up against a real threat; her family needs her. The film needs her. We need her. Thank God for Dee Wallace. Do yourself a favour and make this your Christmas horror movie for 2017 and keep an eye out for Anderson.

Special Features: Bloopers / Q&A / Deleted Scenes

RED CHRISTMAS / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: CRAIG ANDERSON / STARRING: DEE WALLACE, SARAH BISHOP, GEOFF MORRELL / RELEASE DATE: 13TH NOVEMBER

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