Stockings full of blood in RED CHRISTMAS
Dee Wallace is iconic for her horror films and is a beloved figure within the genre of horror cinema. She has a natural skill for emoting realistic concern and heavy reactions. Her best roles have been when she was playing a caring mother. Her film credits include The Howling (1981), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Cujo (1983). Her past film credits carry more weight and are more recognizable than her more recent films but recognition, reputation, and relevance are what keeps actors employed in today’s Hollywood. Seasoned actors may not always make the best decisions when accepting roles, but everyone needs a paycheck. It is possible that Wallace may have gotten a significant paycheck for Red Christmas (2017), while the remaining funds may have been invested into the cost of special effects, apparent near the conclusion of the film. It is clear – Wallace’s supportive cast in this film should have considered taking acting lessons from her prior to production.
Wallace plays Diane who, with alcoholic Uncle Joe (Geoff Morrell), successfully gather their dysfunctional family together for a holiday dinner. Daughter Suzy (Sarah Bishop) with Pastor Peter (David Collins), and pregnant daughter Ginny (Janis McGavin) with husband Scott (Bjorn Stewart), arrive to celebrate the season in their company. Living with Diane and Uncle Joe are adopted daughter Hope (Deelia Meriel) and their son Jerry (Gerard Odwyer) who has Downes Syndrome but seems to enjoy quoting Shakespeare. Jerry’s disorder has more significance later in the film, but for now his behavior causes him to be re-directed by other characters, and to be placed in awkwardly unfunny situations. That evening, as the family is settling an argument before dinner, there is a knock at the door. A tall and looming character, wrapped in bandages and wearing a black cloak asks to enter their home, and be allowed to read a hand-written letter. The figure’s name is Cletus (Sam Campbell) and the family welcomes him into their home, without hesitation. Upon reading the letter, Cletus reaches a point that touches on the subject of pro-life – appearing to hit a nerve, the family immediately eject him from their home. Cletus does not react well to this rejection, and decides to murder the family, one member at a time.
Director Craig Anderson sets this film up to play out like many of the low-budget holiday horror films from the past. This is Anderson’s first full-length feature film as he has become more familiar with directing short films and television shows up to this point. The premise for this film, perhaps on paper, does not seem that bad. When Cletus begins his reign of terror, the film seems to pick up speed and the budgeted special effects begin to happen.
Red Christmas may be worth a watch if nothing else but for the last twenty minutes. There are better Christmas horror films available to choose from, but perhaps this one could act as a reasonable warm up to the rest.
Rent it…why not.