The mighty Dee Wallace returns in veteran television director and actor, Craig Anderson's, first feature length Australian slasher film – Red Christmas. The film combines the banal horror of family gatherings with the issues of abortion, feminism, ethics, religion, and privacy; with a blood-splattered twist on what happens when secrets refuse to stay dead!
Dee Wallace headlines as Diane, a matriarch presiding over the gathering of her squabbling grown children on Christmas Day. Tensions give way to terror when a deformed stranger appears at the door with vengeance on his mind. Diane must protect her family as limbs are
severed and secrets are brought into the light.
Wow, this is how you make a horror film. Hands down one of the best of 2017. The Aussies have been known to produce some top class horror titles; The Babadook, The Loved Ones, Wolf Creek…there is a very extensive list of successful Aussie horrors, and Red Christmas is going to without a doubt catapult its way to the top tier.
Wallace is as brilliant as ever; stellar in every regard, but her supporting cast more than match her performance. They all absolutely pull off their characters without so much as an awkward line. This makes for an emotional, psychological roller coaster bar none. While your average slasher is permeated with campy dialogue and bad decisions, this is an actual family in believable blight — brilliant.
The most impressive moment of the film was for me the reaction after the second kill of the film. It was an actual, realistic reaction to a family member being murdered. Absolute distraught and legitimate terror — something that so few slasher films get right these days. Although just a highlight of what is a triumph in its own right, Red Christmas is, scene for scene, a world class horror movie.
Cletus — the newest baddie to enter the world of horror icons — is visually the very embodiment of the reaper himself, yet so mild-mannered and unassuming that you can't but help pity him. He's an absolutely amazing malefactor and a breath of fresh air for the genre as a whole. Sam Campbell really outdid himself with his creepy dialogue and his ability to make us empathize with the hooded hack-and-slasher.
There were a handful of grievances that I do need to address though. There were some very strange choices in camera angles, with some of the panic and kill shots being unnecessarily low-angled, and a lot of the lighting was incredibly extreme; some rooms being red while others green or yellow(I get it – Christmas). Also, some shots were unnecessarily shaky when steady would have sufficed and been easier on the eyes. The film never really has that Christmassy festive feel, making those forced hues unnecessary, though that's probably just my opinion rather than a critique. None of these things impacted the film negatively, but rather stylized the film in the vision of whomever liked staunch primary colours.
The whole attack on the rights and wrongs of abortion, which is a main theme of the film, was a very ballsy move on the part of Writer/Director Craig Anderson. It is a very contentious and heated topic that will likely not be resolved for a very long time to come.
Whilst managing to maintain a serious feel throughout the film by takling importnat issues, there is (like with many Aussie horrors) a bit of that cheeky humour that manages to shine through. It's a very dry sense of humour that is reminiscent of classic British comedy, something completely lacking in the American horror scene. It's that essence of everyday humanity and the complexity of normality, which is often replaced with American idolatry (Not everyone is a bikini model America). Here we have real, flawed, relatable humans where if it were an American production, we'd probably have had a clutch of stereotypes. Also, the family itself was so wonderfully flawed that it was very easy to relate to their angsty awkwardness.
I disliked the way the film ended, but I suppose you are supposed to, so long as you are some somewhat empathetic. Nonetheless, this was a masterful piece and an applaudable production. A full five stars and a definite recommendation. Catch the trailer below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.