For most people, the word red when placed in the context of Christmas conjures festive imagery of holly, fairy lights and St Nick’s infamous suit. For horror fans however, it means another seasonal bloodbath. From Silent Night, Deadly Night [1984] to one of the first ever slashers Black Christmas [1974] and even Krampus [2015], the jolliest time of year isn’t safe from sheer terror and carnage.

Frightfest 2016 has served up another Christmas feast for the senses with Craig Anderson’s Red Christmas.

Anderson’s directorial debut is headed up by matriarch Diane, played by Dee Wallace – aka the mum from E.T. Keen horror fans out there will also recognise her from 1977’s cult classic The Hills Have Eyes too. Diane is accompanied by her misfit, squabbling family for what she hopes will be an idyllic Christmas day. An unexpected knock at the door sends their day spiralling into chaos with Diane’s secret decision twenty years previously at the centre of the destruction. A fabulous yet familiar game of cat and mouse ensues when their eerie Christmas visitor swarms their secluded home.

Red Christmas is a solid slasher movie with some gruesome, blood-drenched scenes and a mixed bag of kills, even if at times they are a little naff and very obviously of the low-budget persuasion. The theme of abortion interested me too – whilst it could be deemed as hugely controversial, it’s important to remember that almost no subject is untouched when it comes to horror films and Red Christmas is one of the few, if any that broaches this subject. Issues of morality, vengeance and guilt all blend perfectly with the horror genre. My only criticism of the theme is that it could be perceived as a cautionary tale against abortion and therefore shaming of women who choose to do so – but I have a feeling nothing quite so malicious was intended. Instead, a new tale of revenge was imagined, so kudos to Anderson for exploring that. On top of all that there is all a related theme of having a child with a disability, which whilst I understand its inclusion in the plot it may be a subject deemed [by some] too sophisticated or delicate to broach in a horror film.

Whilst the rest of Diane’s family, played by a mostly little-known Australian cast are watchable, I feel they had very little to work with onscreen. Their performances are believable but the characters seem a little one dimensional – cue wild but pregnant sister, uptight childless sister, pot-loving uncle and closeted sexually-repressed priest. Plus, in true slasher style [although it does get a little exasperating] they make one stupid mistake after another making the killer’s spree a breeze.

Other little annoyances include the power outage. Killer cuts all power, yet somehow the rooms are still bathed in green and red fluorescent lights which I presume are supposed to be Christmas light glare? It seems sloppy. That plus the pregnant belly that looks like a beach ball stuffed up her dress and the hanging scene which looks like someone threw a doll out of the window – these little mistakes trip Red Christmas up and perhaps reveal its budget limitations.

Lastly, I’m not really sure why this is a Christmas film. If you clutch at straws you could make the link between the abortion theme and the connotations Christmas has with the birth of Christ and as a caveat of that the so-called moralistic viewpoint of Christianity. This is loosely tied in with the presence of the priest. But really, Cleetus could have showed up any day of the year. Unless Anderson was going for the comedy value that Christmas is the time of year that we all get unwanted guests knocking down our door. It falls short of the mark in comparison to other Christmas horrors so I doubt it will join the current line-up of cult Christmas horrors.

Despite its misgivings Red Christmas is a fairly enjoyable watch. Demented killer Cleetus played by Sam Campbell is one of the creepiest killers I’ve seen on screen in a while – the design of his costume is great, somewhere between ghoul and disfigured monster. I couldn’t understand why the family didn’t call the police as soon as they came face to face with him…but as I said before, common sense goes out of the window in slashers and Red Christmas is no exception.

Horror Channel Frightfest review: Red Christmas
3.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing – although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.