If you laugh at the information that “The 12 Days of Christmas”, first published in 1780 and probably not a lot older than that, is actually a thousand-year old Mayan prophecy about “that 2012 thing”, then this could be the film for you.
I don’t know whether it’s the case that SyFy has relaxed its rules on its original movies being funny on purpose, or whether their filmmakers have gotten better at hiding it, but “The 12 Disasters of Christmas” is funny as hell. I also want to hold my hands up and admit it took me 45 minutes of the film’s running time before I spotted the amazing array of Biblical names that are sort of plot-relevant – father and mother are Joseph and Mary, their daughter is Jacey (JC), the property developer is Kane, and the Mayor is Jude (there are plenty of others).
Plus it’s set in a town called Calvary! Joseph and Jacey have a discussion about how the big Megadeals store coming to town will force all the small businesses to shut down (a surprisingly accurate sentiment) and it’s a bad thing. We don’t have tons of time to think about this though, because Jacey’s grandmother hands her a magic ring and tells her she’s the chosen one…right before getting a spear of ice through the chest. It seems Calvary is the location of the end of the world, and only Jacey can stop it by collecting five magic rings which were, for some reason, buried round the town.
This information is given to her by her Grandma’s old boyfriend (there’s a handy photo of them stood outside Machu Picchu), who runs the local rare book shop. He gets this from a real Mayan book, a thousand years old, detailing the prophecy in handy picture form. At this moment I thought “if that book was real and he sold it, he’d be able to buy the entire town. Heck, he’d be able to buy most of the state” but I’d already accepted the whole Christmas carol thing by that point so I was in til the bitter end.
Jacey and Joseph run round town trying to get the rings, while Kane tries to stop them. As he’s building the new Megadeals, we know he’s a bad guy, but he’s just a bit oily until the townspeople gather in the local church to avoid the various Mayan disasters (including, amazingly, a dome that covers the entire town and instantly shatters anything passing through it either way). Then, he seizes the book and decides that the best way to solve the problem would be to sacrifice Jacey – while standing in front of a giant white cross. For those of you keeping score, the main couple in this remain happily married throughout, which is really damaging my pet theory about the SyFy Channel and estranged couples.
This film is so much fun! It’s helped by its location – I presume they took over a pre-decorated town for a day or two to do the filming, because it looks great, and the beautiful mountain scenery helps too. The script from Rudy Thauberger (whose Twitter feed is hilarious, and is also responsible for “Independence Daysaster”, which we loved) is full of clever little bits, and there are some top-drawer little visual moments – like when a tornado sweeps through a Christmas tree lot, and sucks up a display of Santa and his reindeer, causing them to fly through the air in perfect fashion. The cast is absolutely stuffed with people you’ll recognise from other SyFy shows and films – or maybe that’s just me watching too much of this stuff. They’re decent too though.
If you want a nice alternative Christmas movie this year, you could do a heck of a lot worse than this. No boring lull in the middle, nothing but bonkers prophecies and people getting offed in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Oh, and the dog lives! Okay, you’re going to need to not take the film seriously too much, but if the filmmakers can manage that, you can too.
Rating: thumbs up