A prologue with angry protestors planting a bomb in a hospital... this one was interesting already.
Christmas Eve in Australia, and elderly mother Diane (Dee Wallace) has invited the whole family over for the holiday. Relatives include sarcastic brother Joe (Geoff Morrell), son Jerry (Gerard Odwyer) who loves reading Shakespeare, pregnant daughter Ginny (Janis McGavin) and her husband, religious daughter Suzy (Sarah Bishop) and her husband, too, and finally college-dropout daughter Hope (Deelia Meriel).
Suzy appears envious of Ginny's pregnancy, and you get the impression that this is the type of family that can't all be in the same room without someone sparking an argument. Diane takes Suzy up to the bedroom alone, where she hands her an early Christmas gift, a cheque to pay for fertility treatment. 'God is all the treatment we need', she claims, to which Diane suggests that maybe God wants her to have a helping hand. It's obvious that Suzy and her husband are the only religious folks present, which leads to a few spiteful comments.
The next morning, everyone has sat down in the living room and are about to open presents when a row begins between Ginny and Suzy about pregnancy and religion (what else?). Once they've both calmed down, there comes a knock at the door, and a strange cloaked man, appearing ill and injured, asks to be let in to read a letter...
'It's Christmas', Diane decides, and he is allowed inside. The letter mentions an abortion, to which Diane responds furiously, demanding him to leave, and it leads to him being quite literally thrown out the front door by her brother. Now in a rage, this mystery man retrieves an axe and returns to the house that evening, intent on bloody revenge... who is he?
Well, when his identity was revealed, it didn't come as much of a shock; some reviews even mention his true nature anyway. It just didn't work as a twist for me, but I will refrain from revealing it here... perhaps you will be surprised?
RED CHRISTMAS may sound like your typical Christmas slasher, but some daring ideas were explored, though not extremely well. The topic of abortion is huge in director Craig Anderson's film, and while it's undoubtedly something grim to include, I personally couldn't sense any real purpose for it being included, besides giving the otherwise typical hack 'n slash setup that darker edge that similar films may not have. Still, that doesn't automatically make this one better, nor worthy of praise for just being willing to do so.
As a genre film, it's decent. The unnerving killer (played by Sam Campbell) is a very typical antagonist for this kind of fare: faceless, seemingly invincible, capable of teleporting from one part of the house to another in seconds, creatively brutal... he's a pretty good villain, a little pathetic even – should we feel sorry for him? There is an eccentric mix of kills, some of them completely over the top (one person is bisected with one axe strike) and others pretty fucking intense.
Decent performances from everyone, with Dee Wallace shining. It was great to have a badass old lady character without comedic influences. She's a strong, awesome lead. There is a mix of American and Australian accents, which I thought was a fine change.
RED CHRISTMAS received a theatrical release on August 25th. I was sent an online link to the film for reviewing purposes.
Craig Anderson's film isn't excellent, but it's not particularly poor either. It dares to be different, even if everything doesn't quite come together, and it's an engaging 79 minutes, for sure.
Review by Elliott Moran
|Released by 101 Films|