Red Christmas Blu-ray Review- Bloody Home for the Holidays

Posted October 17, 2017 by Thomas James Juretus in Movies

Director: Craig Anderson

Writer: Craig Anderson

Release date: October 17, 2017

Cast: Dee Wallace, Geoff Morrell, Sarah Bishop, Janis McGavin, David Collins, Bjorn Stewart, Gerald O’Dwyer, Sam Campbell

While Christmas may evoke more pleasant tidings for some, those who make horror movies have a different take on the holiday. We’ve seen demented axe murderers in films like Silent Night, Deadly Night and a dark version of Santa in Krampus. Now Australian director Craig Anderson, with his first feature film, adds to the bloody holiday fare with Red Christmas. The movie takes the dysfunctional family dynamic and gives it a bloody twist, with mostly successful results. Though it may be a bit predictable, it still entertains, delivering some dark comedy and some decent gory thrills.

The movie opens with a protest at an abortion clinic, followed closely by a bombing. A doctor finds a fetus that survived the abortion attempt, and takes it away. Flash forward 20 years later, and Diane (Dee Wallace) is planning on getting her family together for a great Christmas celebration. The family includes Uncle Joe (Geoff Morrell), daughter Hope (Deelia Meriel), very pregnant daughter Ginny (Janis McGavin) and her husband, Scott (Bjorn Stewart), daughter Suzy (Sarah Bishop) and his priest husband Peter (David Collins), and her son, Gerry (Gerald O’Dwyer), who has Down’s Syndrome. The typical bickering between siblings arises as the family prepares to open gifts. It’s at that time a mysterious stranger in a black robe (Sam Campbell) shows up at the door, bearing a dark secret from Diane’s past. The stranger is unceremoniously thrown out the door. Turns out that wasn’t a good idea, as he returns with axe in hand. Diane’s family Christmas then begins a fight for survival.

The family members all come across as fairly believable, and Wallace (E.T., Cujo, The Frighteners) proves to be a strong matriarch without being overbearing. She’s managed to survive and raise her family after the loss of her husband, and rises to the occasion when things begin to get bloody. For the most part her character tries to make smart choices, even though as things get worse she begins to falter. Even then, her resolve to keep her family alive remains strong. As the stranger, Campbell (Johnny Beretta) makes for a creepy as well as a sympathetic character. We understand why he reacts violently to rejection, though his secret about Diane is easy enough to figure out before the characters on screen do. Director Anderson keeps up a fair amount of suspense throughout the movie, which, at 81 minutes, doesn’t overstay its welcome. We get just enough time to know these people before they start to drop like flies. The use of practical effects works nicely and they look good, adding just the right amount of gore. The movie does seem to have a mixed message stemming from the beginning, which is hard to discuss without going into spoilers here. Anderson seems to play both sides of the fence, which may make the film feel a bit awkward for some. The film works better as a straight revenge tale, and when it focuses on that dynamic it works quite well and proves to be pretty entertaining.

The Blu-ray doesn’t come with a whole lot of bonus features, with the extras clocking in at around 36 minutes. There’s a three minute blooper reel, director’s commentary, a throw-away deleted scene, a mini interview of director Anderson by O’Dwyer (which is slightly amusing), and a 10 minute talk between director Anderson and actors Sam Campbell and Gerald O’Dwyer. The highlight is Anderson’s interview with Dee Wallace. Wallace is a joy to listen to as she reminisces on working with Spielberg on E.T. and Blake Edwards on 10, as well on her time with Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners and the Stephen King adaptation Cujo. Her thoughts are both entertaining and worth a listen as she discusses her work in previous films as well as her role in Red Christmas.

In all, Red Christmas proves to be a fairly entertaining though at times predictable horror movie. The cast does a nice job at selling the characters, and the practical effects make the gore work well on the film’s low budget. Even with being shot cheaply the film looks good, and conveys enough suspense to keep viewers watching. It also does a nice job at staying self contained, with a satisfying conclusion to the bloody proceedings. The movie makes a nice addition to the long list of holiday slasher titles, providing a solid mix of dysfunctional family comedy and horror. It’s a nice little holiday treat for those who like their Christmas movies to be a bit more bloody and less sugary. Worth checking out.

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Thomas James Juretus