Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022) Feels as Robotic as Its Antagonist
Title: Christmas Bloody Christmas
First Non-Festival Release: December 9, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Joe Begos
Writer: Joe Begos
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Abraham Benrubi
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
As the owner of a record shop, Tori (Riley Dandy) is responsible for shutting down, along with her employee Robbie (Sam Delich). The two decide to drop off some Christmas presents at a friend’s toyshop before getting a drink and spending the night together. After they leave, Jay (Jonah Ray) and Lahna (Dora Madison) decide to have some fun in the empty shop. Unfortunately for them, they are not alone. Their commitment to holiday naughtiness means the duo is unaware of the nationwide robot recall. A toy company that repurposed military technology for fully operational Santa droids is broadcasting that there may be a few glitches in the system of their product that might cause mass casualties.
Blood-drenched Christmas Bloody Christmas fails to bring holiday cheer or charm in this empty-calorie slasher outing.
What should be a fun Christmas horror to celebrate the holidays quickly becomes an irritating endurance test thanks to the miserable script. From the get-go, Christmas Bloody Christmas employs a repetitively vulgar approach to horror dialogue and character development. This isn’t terrible in its own right, but it quickly gets irritating as there is little meaningful development in the plot or characters after the 100th iteration of “fuck” gets thrown around in various small businesses. The artificial edginess of the characters feels forced making it difficult to understand how they fit into the sleepy town atmosphere otherwise projected onto the film.
Once the action gets going, the film doesn’t get better, even when the Killer Santa Robot gets the opportunity to slice and dice the townsfolk. Without much more than a spare news report to postulate on, viewers deduce that the carnage about to unfold will be due to technical difficulties from faulty military technology refashioned by a greedy and ignorant corporation. This explanation is fine. Where the issue lies, however, is with how the violence begins. In Christmas Bloody Christmas, Santa goes berserk over nothing. No further explanations are given as to what set it off or why it is dead set on killing specific people. It’s fine considering the film aspires to be splattery fun but makes it difficult to stay invested past that as there is little to understand about its motivations.
What’s more, the film's main attraction, the violence, isn’t all that engaging either. The kills are merciless and bloody, but they lack gravitas and suspense. Aside from Tori, all the other side characters are given ten minutes tops after meeting the robot before meeting their doom. Somehow, she manages to get away time and again thanks to heavy plot armor. Hilariously, this same criticism can be lobbed at the robot killer himself. Christmas Bloody Christmas has at least five separate times where Tori is victorious over her stalker, complete with celebratory music and all, before the camera pans and soundtrack indicates it is far from over. Once is surprising, twice is fine, but more than that and it just feels lazy.
This laziness makes the film so disappointing because it is clear that there is talent involved. From an aesthetic standpoint, it rocks. The bright colored laser lights and intimate small-town digs make for some truly fun moments within the film. Despite little actual character work being done, the cast has great chemistry with each other. Their interactions feel genuine even when their characters don’t. It looks like everyone is having fun, and that attitude is infectious. It's a shame that the rest of the film doesn’t feel as cohesive.
Ineffective but ultimately harmless holiday fun, Christmas Bloody Christmas manages to eke out a few memorable sequences before limping across its finish line. Its irritating dialogue and brainless plot aside might be too much to handle for viewers wanting something more substantial to latch onto for the holidays. For those wanting something brutal with plenty of guts, it has all the stocking stuffers one could ask for. Everyone wants something different out of their Christmas gifts, and there are plenty of people that will jump for joy at what Joe Begos leaves under the tree this year on Shudder.
Overall Score? 5/10