Dir. Joe Begos (2022)
A killer robot Santa Claus faces off against young people who work in a record store and just want to party.
Drinking? Robots? Killer Santa Claus? Hell yes, and I’m all in for any movie that wants to combine my three greatest loves. Director Joe Begos brings us one of the year’s bloodiest Christmas movies in Christmas Bloody Christmas, the aptly named holiday spectacular that decides to see what it would’ve been like if the T-800 had been a holly jolly fat man instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger. While there were definitely some parts of the film that didn’t quite hit for me, it’s still a bloody thrill ride with some fantastic practical effects and a balls-to-the-wall finale that’s sure to fill your stockings with joy.
First, let’s talk about the bad parts of the film, because getting that out of the way first can be helpful. The aesthetics of the movie didn’t make a lot of sense, with seemingly every scene almost difficult to see because of the dim lighting, the acid-neon glow from seemingly every surface, and a dark cinematography that hid some considerably good effects. At one point, the killer turns the lights out in the house and it’s hardly darker than it was before he did so. The movie was filled with desperately unlikeable characters. The dialogue was overdone, especially between stars Riley Dandy and Sam Delich. Their discourse could’ve been nice, character-building additions to the film, but instead because obnoxious due to its unending frequency. At some point, the audience feels like, ok, we get it, you like rock music and movies and have strong opinions on things. At least some of us have the common courtesy to start a website that no one reads to spout our often-nonsensical opinions. It’s difficult to take too much of their dialogue seriously when literally every other word was fuck or shit. I’m not one to have a disdain for swearing, but at a certain point, Begos isn’t Scorsese.
There was a lot to like about the film, and I don’t want this to seem like a negative review because it’s not intended to be. I love Abraham Benrubi, and he was one of my favorite characters in all of ER (yes, I’m old.) There is something about the main characters that, grating as they may be, comes across as endearing. And hell, I’m not someone to shy away from the swearing, after all. It’s a killer robot Santa Claus who kills people in increasingly brutal ways and doesn’t hesitate to murder children as well, so this is going to be a movie that makes a lot of people happy. There were some gnarly kills in the film, with lots of blood and guts to keep the most ardent horror fans happy. It just would’ve been nice to be able to see them better.
All in all, it feels like a movie that swings for the fences but ends up flying out to center. The kills really are nothing short of spectacular, and the characters within, if turned down a notch, would’ve been excellent and compelling. It’s a fairly straightforward slasher (just with a killer robot), and God knows I’ve never seen a slasher I didn’t find something to enjoy within. The film has everything in it to be a superb film, and to be honest, if it had been more well-lit, it would’ve gone up a couple of stars in the ratings. All that being said, the movie is absolutely worth a watch, and now is definitely the time of year to give it a try. The reviews are mixed, but maybe you’ll enjoy it. There are certainly a lot worse holiday choices you could make, it may just be worth taking a shot or two of your SoCo eggnog before watching. Nobody gets out unscathed, not even old Saint Nick.
Who this movie is for: Christmas horror lovers, Scifi horror fans, People who wish The Terminator was a Christmas movie
Bottom line: It’s a super fun movie with a killer robot Santa, it’s just not quite as fun as a killer robot Santa movie should be. The kills are outstanding, the acting is excellent, and the 80’s-inspired luminescent aesthetic would be a dream if they were making a different movie. What the film lacks in a good script it makes up for with a punk-rock intention, providing a movie that is going to be a hit for a lot of the less-discerning horror fans. There’s a lot to love, and it very well may be right in your wheelhouse. If you love horror/scifi/Christmas/robot mashups, this one is for you, and you can check it out streaming on Shudder.