Philadelphia Film Festival Review – Christmas Bloody Christmas

Philadelphia Film Festival Review – Christmas Bloody Christmas

A neon lit, blood-drenched, metal-as-fuck action slasher with a killer lead and more smashed skulls and mangled faces than I could have ever hoped for. Hyper-violence, explosions, cunnilingus; Joe Begos, the madman behind Bliss and VFW has delivered the goods in a big way. He has captured the cozy vibes of a snowy winter night and upended them with a tale of absolute mayhem. Christmas Bloody Christmas is not a movie — it’s a party.

Pre-title card, we are given the tiniest amount of background. It’s patently ridiculous, but it’s all we need to get the party going. Basically, a bunch of decommissioned Department of Defense robots have been repurposed as robotic Santa Clauses to bring Christmas cheer to the decor of storefronts and homes nationwide. Why would such a thing occur? Shut up. Do you want this movie or not? (You do).

This season’s Santa-bots are in the process of a recall, resulting from them behaving in unpredictable, although mostly harmless ways. Well, all except for one of them. This one has decided to kill anything and everything that moves.

The story follows Tori (Riley Dandy), a record store owner who plans to spend Christmas Eve getting drunk and potentially cruising Tinder for sex. Unfortunately for her, she and her friends are now in the path of the killer Santa-bot, and then a movie happens.

And the movie kicks serious ass. Begos has a unique filmmaking style that pays homage to the slashers of the ‘80s while also being its own original thing. The lens of nostalgia is only an entry point to what Begos has created. Neon lighting, practical (and beautifully excessive) gore effects, honest to god explosions made of real fire and flame — it’s a dream for those who lament the drab digital look of so much low-budget horror. Even the snow, which never stops falling, is thick and tangible, and let me tell you, it makes all the difference in the world, as does the setting: the brightly decorated main drag of a small town. As I understand it, this is a real location, and Begos’ team was given carte blanche access to go wild in creating their insane nightmare.

Even with all of this surface-level craft to please a discerning horror audience, what resonates most is the strength of the characters. In the world of slashers, it’s tough to get attached to anyone since it’s plainly obvious that most will be cut to pieces before the credits roll. This often gives the writer an excuse to populate their script with empty “red shirts” who exist only to be violently ripped from existence. This is not the case here. Sure there are a handful of people who only last a single scene, but a mix of clever dialogue and fantastic performances make it so that every smashed skull carries weight — no one is too precious to die either. Everybody’s flesh is on the chopping block. The standout, of course, is our lead. Tori is an atypical final girl. She doesn’t go from meek virgin to angel of justice like so many before her have. She’s a confident badass from the outset, only now she has to put her rock and roll image to work. Kudos as well to Sam Delich, whose Robbie plays as both a partner and foil to our leading lady. The pair are quite charming and ooze an uncommon sex appeal that matches the tone of the film.

Gorgeously imagined, cruel as hell, and just a bloody good time. Christmas Bloody Christmas rocks as hard as a movie can.

Please put out a 4K of this movie, Mr. Begos, I will pay top dollar.

Directed by Joe Begos

Written by Joe Begos

Starring Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Dora Madison, Jeff Daniel Phillips (no movie featuring JDP can be all bad, it is law).

Not Rated, 81 minutes

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