Christmas Blood, 2018.
Directed by Reinert Kiil.
Starring Helene Eidsvåg, Stig Henrik Hoff, Yassmine Johansen, and Sondre Krogtoft Larsen.
After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes a couple days before Christmas night.
Reinert Kiil’s Christmas Blood gains a favorable comparison versus this year’s avalanche of Z-grade Xmas Horror for a simple reason: Kiil shoots a competent cinematic product. Elves, Ugly Sweater Party, Krampus Origins – one critic can only endure so much red-and-green genre slop before throwing in the snow-white flag. Then along comes an Artsploitation email lauding their newest Norwegian holiday slasher, with an accompanying trailer that resembles an actual movie. Not some backyard home video with mute “Elf on the Shelf” dummies. A real, adequately framed, moodily lit, squirmy practical effects horror film.
Granted, Christmas Blood is still generic and motivationally silly by usual horror standards – but in the psycho St. Nick world? One must suffer at least five jagged lumps of coal before such relief.
Kiil’s backstory divulgence is one of the longer on-screen text scrolls I’ve been asked – as an audience member – to digest. Long story short, a serial killer dressed as Santa Claus started offing innocents on Christmas in 1998. He leaves a hilariously long list of 324 “naughty” victims for police to track. A reported 121 fatalities tally until Christmas 2011 when Detective Rasch (Stig Henrik Hoff) lodges multiple bullets in his perp only for Killer Claus to “inexplicably” survive. Launch forward into 2016 – Santa has escaped institutional custody, which means more bodies are about to pile up. Fit sorority-brand bodies draped in sexy festive lingerie who gather in a deserted Norway town where the killer charts course.
All this to say a “manifestation of pure evil” – direct words from the film’s psychologist followed by “he shouldn’t exist” – escapes on Christmas and slaughters a vacation rental full of drinking, fornicating, pot-smoking female friends. There. How hard was that?
To an almost satirical degree, Christmas Blood – title words visible on official police folders as the unsolved case’s *actual* nickname – is overstuffed with clichés. The not-fatally-shot, undefined villain who mutters “Ho Ho Ho.” Drunk ex-detective Rasch stumbling back into action, complete with an entrance wearing sunglasses at night. A household full of women who are supposed to be friendly but end up fighting every step of the way despite multiple “party-down” scenes. The boyfriend who can’t keep from cheating, online dating app suitors who shouldn’t be permitted asylum, blissful ignorance to evil Santa’s presence in ridiculous ways (noise pollution, etc.) – none of which elevate beyond trivial slasher norms.
For a movie named “Christmas Blood,” there sure is plenty of it. Gushing torrents of red goo as Santa swings his axe into abdomens, genital regions, and top-down through a naughty little girl opening presents before Christmas morning. Kiil’s effects elves are ruthless in their executions and obsessed with fake intestines dropping from open wounds. A few kills even defy physics as Santa swings his axe like a golf club, catches quite a burly man (mid-date-rape, which we’ll address), and lifts him against the ceiling with Herculean ease. Characters may be dumb, but atonement comes via a slick wood-chopping blade responsible for gruesome slasher gore: no “White Christmas” this year, only crimson.
It’s all very savage and cruel – a buddy cop procedural and ravenous hunt in one – but personalities are, being kind, vexing and undertreated. Drama erupts from nothing but bitchy remarks, and scenes too frequently supplant the villain’s sloth-like journey towards another massacre with scene after scene of electro-pop dance distractions. Christmas Blood forces tragedy as often as possible, most perversely in the form of drugged sexual assault that adds nothing to sofa creep’s proven despicable intent. At times, we wonder why the girls even bothered to reunite.
I will say, both the straight-laced acting detective and Rasch’s broken retiree are more than syndicated television throwaways. Rasch is, in all his hungover dishevelment, endearing to watch pull together. His collar-and-tie partner frustrated around every turn, Rasch motivated by his deranged Christmas Killer obsession that leads to him mapping a connection between all victims – by drawing a Christmas tree over Norway’s map. Yup! Cut to Rasch scribbling a Christmas tree outline atop victim pictures scattered across Norway’s landscape, ending with a star on top – where Santa’s finale will strike that very night.
If you’re going to make a Christmas Horror film, might as well spare no expense.
Christmas Blood is down-and-dirty Xmasploitation shaped by the same slasher cookie cutters we’ve seen used for generations – gingerbread flavored, nonetheless. Santa is unstoppable, out for blood, and swings a mean axe. Victims shake their tushies in skimpy “Santa Baby” nightwear, curse each other out, and celebrate a dysfunctional holiday vacation until corpses start piling up. Is it enough to check off expected boxes? In the Christmas Horror world, by comparison, that’s a resounding yes. I’ll be honest – I’m a sucker for any slasher that features a decapitated head snowman topper. Check and mate, Reinert Kiil. You sick Christmas ruinin’ sonofagun.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Matt spends his after-work hours posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). Follow him on Twitter/Instagram (@DoNatoBomb).