Without wanting to ruin my review with an outburst of opinion right in the opening line, but I was seriously impressed with ‘Red Christmas’ a slasher film with a real emotional punch and some awesome set pieces.
With a cast helmed by horror veteran Dee Wallace, we spend one rather unfortunate final Christmas with a family whose past just caught up with them. A widow (Wallace) and her bickering family gather at her remote estate on Christmas Eve. She must soon protect them all from a hideously deformed killer who's out for bloody revenge.
All in all, typical slasher plot, plenty of fodder and with the family’s property being a remote villa the location is ripe for some uninterrupted slaughter – which is thankfully what we get.
The violence is brutal, the killer, a deranged hunchback, does the rounds one at a time dispatching his victims by axe, by impalement and by my absolute favourite, a man-trap to the head. The film is rather dark, and it is a little bit of a shame that there weren’t more fully lit bloody sequences, but they definitely make an impact even if the film isn’t quite as confident to show the kill shots as much as the now legendary 80s slasher movies it does well to emulate. That said, I didn’t feel short changed, and fans of body-count carnage will no doubt have their blood lust satiated and there are a couple of seriously well shot kill sequences scattered throughout.
Where the film excels however, is in the strengths of its performances. All members of the cast are strong and play their varied characters with conviction. It is quite a mature cast and this helps to give some weight to the films more serious ‘pro-life’ ethics theme. Despite this being a typically by the numbers slasher film there some serious messages to consider, the most poignant of those being blame. Normally in such genre movies I wait for a group of wrong doers to be offed by someone even more morally corrupt, but in this film, despite the family’s personal quarrels their fate seemed cruel and unwarranted. Despite one rather silly ‘killer reveal’ scene towards the end of the film, the killer is relentless in his pursuit of ‘justice’, whilst the ‘normal’ family must watch in horror as they are defenceless to stop their love ones dying.
The film runs at 80 odd minutes and the pace stays strong throughout, with only the ending being a little too close to the cat and mouse cliché dragging a little.
Overall, ‘Red Christmas’ is a perfect example of a great slasher film. It will not convert non-genre fans as, despite its more serious subject material and strong characterisation, it is still your typical formulaic slasher at heart, but here, where so many fail, all the pieces fall together to make one hell of an intense viewing experience.
‘Red Christmas’ is released through ‘Artsploitation’ October 17th on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD.