Aside from a few variations and outliers, holiday movies are all pretty much the same, aren’t they?
You’ve got the festive music, the warmth, the mistletoe. The happy endings. It’s fine if you’re in the mood for it, but what happens if you want a completely different kind of holiday movie altogether?
Well, there’s an easy answer to that. And it involves a six-foot robot Santa with green lazer eyes and a penchant for axe-wielding murder.
What’s Christmas Bloody Christmas about?
Following in the rich tradition of murderous Santa movies — think Santa’s Slay, Deadly Games, and the recent Violent Night — writer/director Joe Begos’ Christmas Bloody Christmas takes on the Santa Slasher subgenre and goes one better. It makes the killer Santa a robot. Specifically a military-grade robot that’s been recalled that little bit too late, leaving a small snowy town vulnerable to extreme Christmas eve mayhem.
On the receiving end of said mayhem is Tori Tooms (Riley Dandy), a rock-loving record store owner who’s off to have Christmas Eve drinks with her friend and employee Robbie (Sam Delich). The night takes them to visit friends working in a local toy store, where said murder-Claus is standing ominously dormant.
As you probably guessed, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Tapping into its military origins, robot Santa is soon clunking around the toy store looking for a suitable weapon before brutally dispatching the store’s unfortunate inhabitants and marching to hunt more victims.
Not your typical Christmas Eve.
Credit: Shudder/RLJE Films
It’s more than just a silly slasher.
OK, so don’t get me wrong: Christmas Bloody Christmas is a silly slasher. It knows that. Any film that features a killer robot Santa with green laser eyes can’t take itself too seriously, and Christmas Bloody Christmas comes with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek. That being said, it also has other strings to its bow.
Rather than the type of cardboard cutout characters you often see popping up in slasher movies, Riley and Robbie are interesting and well-drawn. Their relationship is believable and engaging, something helped on by Dandy and Delich’s performances and the realism and humour in Begos’ writing.
In this way the movie has an element of quality about it that contrasts nicely with the more ridiculous sequences, bringing an element of realism that makes us actually care about the people robot Santa is attempting to chop up.
Robbie is one of the characters we end up getting attached to.
Credit: Shudder/RLJE Films
Are there any negatives?
Christmas Bloody Christmas feels like a film of two halves. The first is a mixture of festive slaying and — unexpectedly — an offbeat will-they-won’t-they romance. The second half very much focusses on the slaying bit. Admittedly that’s what most people will probably be watching Christmas Bloody Christmas for, and it is fun — but personally I wanted the first half, which came with its own tensions, to last a little longer.
Despite that, though, Christmas Bloody Christmas is well worth tuning in to — especially if you’re fed up of feeling festive and want to lean into some extreme chaos.