Directed by: Joe Begos
Distributed by: Shudder
Written by Jeff Sparks
Semi-arthouse filmmaker Joe Begos is back with “Christmas Bloody Christmas” which stars Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, and Jeff Daniel Phillips. In this rare Christmas slasher, Dandy and Delich play Tori and Robbie, two owners of a record store who are attacked by a murderous robot Santa on Christmas Eve. The first forty minutes of the film impressed me in particular due to being similar to Begos’ first film, “Bliss,” which I hold in high regard due to its impressive visuals and intense tone. The vibrant colors, wobbly camera work, and crude-fast-paced dialogue ooze his signature style. One scene early on with Tori and Robbie stuck out with Begos’ usual uses of sex and loud music draped under neon lighting. As the music grew louder and the visuals became more graphic the scene dripped excess. The craft and vision Begos displays in this scene is something I hadn’t seen since “Bliss”. And then a Santa Claus with an axe showed up. Don’t get me wrong, the film is good overall but the second half constantly retreads ground that we’ve seen a hundred times before. Cliches and tropes from the slasher genre are littered everywhere. From characters falling down when running, to cars that won’t start, and cops acting dumb. Thankfully Begos’ style and pace keep the film afloat until it arrives at an ending that’s so drawn out it becomes downright silly, even for a slasher. Besides the usual problems that slashers have, my main issue with “Christmas Bloody Christmas” is that it doesn’t feel like an original vision. “Bliss” was a unique experience with a realized character. But “Christmas Bloody Christmas” is a basic slasher that Begos added his flair to, rather than being something that only Begos himself could have come up with.
That’s not to say that this film is totally devoid of thought. The robotic Santa Claus in the film is a military combatant that’s been repurposed for Christmas decoration. Perhaps Begos is commenting on the dangerous effects that the advancement of technology could have. There are also many references sprinkled throughout such as the killer’s pov from “Black Christmas” being used in one scene, along with the two main characters talking about many different films or music during their extended conversations. You could also say that the casting of Jeff Daniel Phillips is a reference to Rob Zombie, whose films seem to be an inspiration to Begos. Even though “Christmas Bloody Christmas” isn’t Begos’ most artistic work, I’d still recommend seeing it, especially over something mainstream like “Violent Night.”
“Christmas Bloody Christmas” Trailer