Six Takes on "Christmas Bloody Christmas"
Reviews of the Grand Illusion Cinemas' showing of Christmas Bloody Christmas
Written collectively by the Teen Editorial Staff and edited by Newsroom Programs Coordinator Huma Ali
The Teen Editorial Staff teamed up to bring to light some different perspectives about the recently released Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022). Read on to see why this Christmas-themed slasher may not make it to your screens this season. Warning: spoilers ahead!
I believe the intent of Christmas Bloody Christmas was to be charmingly provocative but, to me the film was just annoying. The first thing I noticed was the banter between the two main characters, Tori and Robbie (Riley Dandy and Sam Delich). They walked through a Christmas night in a way that almost evoked Before Sunrise, and I’ll admit I had hopes for the two terrible people finding each other trope. However, by the end of the film, their chatter just seemed inane. I admire the attempt to inspire compassion in the viewer before delving into the slasher. Honestly though, the more time I spent with the characters, the more I disliked them.
With a film this kitschy, I was hoping for a bit more. More gore, more action, more in general. I think this could have been a super intriguing spectacle if the writers had leaned into how ridiculous it was. We as the audience only really got a taste of that big gorey climax and the end, had that dramatism been present throughout, this movie would’ve been a lot more entertaining. I went in wanting a flashy Christmas slasher, and left having felt as though I’d wasted an evening.
While I think the idea of a flashy, Christmas slasher is fun, I liked the premise much more than I did the execution. The stakes felt low and the characters were surface level enough that their unlikeability didn’t add anything to their complexity. Christmas Bloody Christmas is an unremarkable spectacle.
The genre of Christmas-inspired horror films may be niche—perhaps too niche to have much of a standard for either mediocrity or excellence. Despite this, Joe Begos’s Christmas Bloody Christmas manages to disappoint its viewers’ expectations, failing to deliver on promises of novelty and excitement elicited by its premise and visuals. The sheer violence of the film’s robot Santa slasher doesn’t leave much to be desired by fans of the gore-fest genre, but for those looking for a good time to go with gratuitous bloodshed, this movie may be a lost cause.
For all its flaws, Christmas Bloody Christmas may yet be a masterclass in how to establish a vivid world that’s of no consequence whatsoever to the viewer. The film creeps along at a painful pace for the first twenty-some minutes of the film, taking its time in establishing the personalities and pop-culture opinions of colorful characters that have no importance to any traceable character arcs or themes. All the film seems to do for a hefty chunk of its runtime is clutter up its world with inconsequential details and characters that ultimately become unlikable for their lack of substance, somehow at once boring the viewer and building up their expectations for narrative turning points that never come.
These expectations come packaged in the film’s truly promising aesthetics and campy slasher premise. One of the only things the film does well is maintain consistency with its bright neon visuals, contrasted with Christmas snow and copious gore for a contrast that ultimately leads to a pleasant shock value for the audience. But I felt that even the visuals were utilized ineffectively by the end—they feel strangely disconnected from the movie’s sense of suspense and action, in a way that doesn’t suit a horror film well. What’s more, the film increasingly felt like a graveyard of wasted potential the closer one got to the end, ignoring all the possible storytelling uses for the dialogue they’d bored the viewer with for so long.
At the end of the day, Christmas Bloody Christmas achieves only middling success with its stronger elements—the appeal of its interesting premise, its exceptional visuals, and gory intrigue—while completely disappointing with the rest of the film. On the surface, it seems to go the other way where many slasher films fail; it spends time with its characters before it kills them, and establishes an interesting world before setting it on fire. But as soon as one delves beneath the surface, they’d see that this is one film that actually should spend more time on the fast-paced thrills of the genre rather than trying to break out of them. With a bit less filler on the things that don’t matter to the viewer or the story, and a bit more of a focus on those that thrill and excite, this film could have overcome its flaws to become a fascinating cult classic. But as it stands, this is one holiday season skip.
After a long and rather gloomy day, the rest of the TEDS and I trudged into the vibrant little theater at the Grand Illusion Cinema. The black molding and thick velvet drapes coated the intimate theater with an eerie, ominous mood—practically the only thing throughout the entire cinema experience that made me feel anything related to horror. Considering that we were watching a slasher movie, I felt surprised that I couldn’t feel an ounce of terror or tension during the first kill. It was a sign, an omen really, that the rest of the movie would be a dull ride, and it was. Christmas Bloody Christmas made for a spectacularly boring movie and a lackluster viewing experience.
A dumpster fire is oddly entertaining to look at, but not this one. The first act slogs on with weak foreshadowing and cringey dialogue from the grating leads, Tori and Robbie. Their banter feels forced and pretentious, a random expletive being thrown in every other word. I love—adore—the good ol’ swear word, but even I couldn’t get past its overuse. As the kills and eventual gore arrived, I started rooting for robot Santa to kill everyone as I leaned into the sadism in order to quell my boredom. All in all, the only way I’d recommend watching this movie would be laughing at it with some friends, and even then, it would be a complete waste of the viewer’s time.
Let me set the scene for you: America is bustling with an electric sort of excitement. A flurry of commercials that play a constant loop of jingling music permeate television channels across the country. Decorative statues of Santa Claus are frozen in a ruddy-cheeked smile in local malls and suburban backyards, hands oscillating back and forth in mechanical waves. It’s the long-awaited Christmastime, iconic to the experience of an American winter.
All of a sudden, the mechanical Santa Claus stops his ho-ho-hoing. His eyes flash an artificial red, akin to the festive lights that litter the backdrop. Santa morphs into a murderous robot, and Christmas suddenly becomes more red than green.
Such is the premise of Christmas Bloody Christmas, which promises a good, campy dose of slasher horror intermingled with unique commentary on the role of capitalism in distributing destructive technology. The Santa robots, which are humorously advertised as a better alternative to “your fully degenerate local mall Santa” are introduced as repurposed war machines designed by the US Defense Department. All it takes is a minuscule malfunction to revert Santa Claus into a (literally) heartless killing-machine. By subverting the traditional iconography of Santa Claus, the film successfully creates an interesting irony, which it uses to satirize the extreme side of American capitalism.
However, the characters’ lack of substance coupled with its gruelingly banal exposition failed to set the film apart from the masses. Too many verbal exchanges between the main character, Tori, and her acquaintances come off as contrived, unnecessary, and even cringe-worthy. It’s too easy to see that the dialogue used to drag out the film’ exposition is meant as a world-building device. But it fails at that too—I as a viewer felt minimal investment in Tori and any other members of the main ensemble. As such, Christmas Bloody Christmas offered a creative, fun premise, but used a mediocre approach to present it.
I believe a well-rounded artistic diet includes a healthy dose of masochism; just because a piece of art is not enjoyable for a moment does not mean it is not worthy of our attention. However, the schlocky 2022 holiday slasher Christmas Bloody Christmas lacks substance, style, and entertainment value, making it a complete waste of viewers’ time.
The film opens with 24 minutes (yes, I counted) of aimless dialogue between the two main characters, Tori and Robbie (played by Riley Dandy and Sam Delich respectively). Then, a robotic Santa goes on a murder spree. You would think that the killer robot Santa would spice things up a bit, but I actually preferred the film before he started his murder spree. Although mundane, I found Tori and Robbie’s banter oddly charming, or at least engaging.
When everything starts to go downhill, the film’s quality falls with it. It is clearly a film with the primary purpose of entertaining, but the lethargic pace and absurd plot make it neither frightening nor funny and the film quickly becomes monotonous. Although I did not enjoy Christmas Bloody Christmas whatsoever, the lackluster storytelling made me appreciate the importance of thoughtful pacing regardless of a story’s purpose and plot.
It was bound to happen eventually that I’d cement my growth as a person and finally sit down to watch a schlocky, silly, fun slasher movie. Christmas Bloody Christmas is certainly schlocky and silly, but it is unfortunately not nearly as fun as I’d hoped.
The film follows two record store staff during the holiday season, hunted by a festive twist on the Terminator: a robot built for war, repurposed as a Santa animatronic.
The titular music-lovers are, as expected, alcoholic, loud-mouthed, and largely aimless. The two leads, Tori and Robbie, are fun enough, even charming if one might stretch, though the expletive-laden banter at some point crosses the line between “endearingly crude” and “annoyingly meandering” as the film rambles through a near-30 minute introduction.
I suppose, then, the appearance of the killer robot Santa would finally add some fun to the movie, but other than the sheer absurdity of said animatronic mowing its way the entire local police department, it’s disappointing. The scares are lackluster, the effects often unconvincing, and the characters obnoxiously loud more than anything else. The final conflict also dragged on far longer than needed, as if the screenwriters kept throwing ideas at a wall for the resolution and decided to use all of them.
Christmas Bloody Christmas is almost a caricature of what a slasher movie is expected to be, given its ludicrous plot, pacing, and characters. However, it never takes the full parody route, and thus creates a disappointing film to avoid for the holiday season.