Red Christmas shows the promise of a throwback slasher (in style, not time period) however what writer/director Craig Anderson has done is inject some really heavy issues into this style of film creating a socially aware slasher.
The film covers some big and emotive issues (for some) including but not limited to abortion and infertility. The entire film revolves on these issues. The story opens up with a montage of a bombing at an abortion clinic and a stolen foetus. We are then thrown into Christmas Day many years later and the somewhat muted celebrations of Diane’s (Dee Wallace) family. We have the heavily pregnant Ginny and her sister Suzy, who in a cruel twist of fate is having some fertility problems, which means the tensions are sure to rise. Adding to the mix is the hard drinking, pot smoking Uncle Joe, Ginny’s sexed up hubby and Suzy’s Religious Minister husband, David. We get the full force of the family arguments early until a stranger wrapped up in a cloak and bandages comes to the door and in the spirit of Christmas Diane lets him in. After some total weirdness, the stranger (whose name we find out is Cletus) then begins to read a letter that puts Diane into a spin and the stranger is promptly thrown out. Of course we all know the set up for this and know it is only going to be a matter of time before something bad happens.
I found that acting to be pretty good from everyone bar a moment or two but in a low budget horror its hardly a new thing. Geoff Morrell (Joe) gets some of funniest lines and makes the most of his role. Everyone keeps the story rolling along however and it makes the film quite entertaining despite its short comings.
The low budget does show here. There are a few good kills however but there are some kills that are not executed very well at all because of the budgetary restrictions, perhaps it was a touch ambitious? The same can be said when we see Cletus’ face, its not a great effect and it isn’t frightening but it is a touch shocking so I guess that is the point.
The film’s aesthetic doesn’t really get that Christmas hue until the night time scenes, when we get the red and green lights. The early scenes really go against any particular style and is presented in a mostly natural way, which is a strange choice for a horror film but it does make the night time sequences really standout.
Anderson drags the issue of reproductive rights into the stark light and all the side issues that come along with it. Sometimes it is hard to watch/hear depending on your stance and your experiences in life. He sets up both sides with Ginny drinking and smoking whilst pregnant in front of the fertility challenged sister. Not too mention the religion of the characters becoming part of the equation. This isn’t to say the film isn’t fun doesn’t have fun moments or some dark comedy/gore gags because it does, a sequence about who has whose mobile phone number whilst cowering for their life is laugh out loud funny.
Red Christmas is not quite the party horror film that you maybe expecting but it certainly wears its social context on its sleeve. I want to see more films from Anderson with more of a budget. The film is definitely worth seeing.
Images courtesy of Craig Anderson