‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ Review – The Blood-Soaked Robot Santa Movie You Didn’t Know You Needed

Horror

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Joe Begos unleashes a new holiday horror classic with his gleefully gratuitous robot Santa rampage, Christmas Bloody Christmas.

“Christmas fucking sucks.”

Horror is most commonly associated with Halloween, but Christmas is right behind the spooky season when it comes to holiday-based horror movies. Christmas horror movies take plenty of different directions from creative home invasions to Satanic elves. However, the killer Santa trope is by far the most common device that’s turned to by these movies. There’s something inherently upsetting about the corruption of a comforting figure like Santa, but the trope’s overexposure has made it increasingly difficult to feel fresh.

Joe Begos is an exceptional horror filmmaker who’s previously eschewed genre tropes with VFW and Bliss. His latest movie, Christmas Bloody Christmas, finally finds a unique angle on the killer Santa stereotype by turning the seasonal threat into a robotic Terminator-like predator. It’s Begos’ strongest film, but also one of the most exciting Christmas horror movies in years. And it’s destined to become a new gory tradition for genre fans each holiday season.

Christmas Bloody Christmas truly feels like a lost piece of ‘70s exploitation B-cinema, which makes it even crazier that this project initially began as a Silent Night, Deadly Night remake. The movie features mock commercials during its introduction to create the sensation of channel surfing during the middle of the night when you just happen to stumble upon this delirious midnight madness. Begos shot the movie on 16mm where the film grain and bleeding colors only enhance the experience. Steve Moore’s score is equally effective and punctuates every grisly set piece. Christmas Bloody Christmas is also tightly paced and clocks in at under 90 minutes. It doesn’t overstay its welcome with this single night of never-ending chaos. 

This is first and foremost a horror movie, but it quickly establishes a charming, clumsy will they/won’t they dynamic between Tori (Riley Dandy) and Robbie (Sam Delich). These are characters that never stop drinking or getting high despite being in constant peril. So much of the film is just Tori and Sam casually chatting as they mock Christmas tropes and rank metal albums and horror sequels. It’s the perfect hangout film before it turns into the perfect horror movie and these two are fighting for their lives against a malfunctioning RoboSanta+. 

Some may argue that Tori and Sam’s conversations occasionally come across as juvenile, but they’re at least authentic to their characters. They’re a very easy duo to watch, but Tori is especially magnetic and possesses a natural charisma. She’s a lightning bolt of energy and the type of character where you just want to be their friend. She evolves into a blood-soaked heroine who could give Samara Weaving a run for her money with her career-making final girl performance here. 

One of the many joys in Christmas Bloody Christmas is that it’s never too worried about plotting or suspension of disbelief. Within minutes the movie sets up an international recall for a brand of robotic Santas and then it’s off to the bloody races. Why is this killer robot Santa stalking everyone? Who cares! Just enjoy the seasonal slayings. Christmas Bloody Christmas eventually turns into a gripping under siege film–”Assault on Precinct December 25”–and the film’s final ten minutes do not hold back. The premise gets escalated to gloriously ridiculous heights. Begos shoots Christmas Bloody Christmas with clearly a lot of reverence towards iconic killer Santa texts, like Tales From the Crypt’s “And All Through the House,” but goes further than any of these movies have in the past. 

The horror and action set pieces throughout Christmas Bloody Christmas are creatively satisfying. However, this is also just a movie that’s a delight to look at. Begos previously experimented with surreal rainbow visuals in his extended hallucinogenic drug trip, Bliss, and much of the same neon tricks are present here. Curiously, Bliss and VFW are relatively contained to limited environments, but Christmas Bloody Christmas allows itself a little more leeway when it could have just as easily restricted itself to its toy store starting point. Begos maintains consistency with the movie’s heightened aesthetic despite the larger sandbox that he allows himself to play in. Christmas Bloody Christmas never bites off more than it can chew, but many of the movie’s most satisfying sequences are the ones where the storytelling doesn’t feel trapped by its setting. 

Christmas Bloody Christmas is an unabashed holiday treat that knows exactly what it is and what its audience is hoping to get from a “killer robot Santa” horror film. It’s deliriously bloody with a striking color palette and kaleidoscopic visuals, but Riley Dandy also emerges as a name to watch out for and hopefully becomes a fixture of the horror genre. It’s exciting to see Begos’ growing ambitious accomplishments as a horror filmmaker and what he has in store for audiences next. There are some really playful franchise opportunities for the world of Christmas Bloody Christmas if Begos ever decides to make a sequel to any of his movies. Infinitely engaging and wildly wicked, Christmas Bloody Christmas lives up to its lofty promise.

If you watch one horror movie this Christmas, it should be this one.

‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ releases in limited theaters from RLHE Films, and streaming on Shudder on December 9.

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