Merry Christmas, dear reader! To celebrate the season, I’m giving you a review of what is in the running for the most thoroughly incompetent, wrong-headed, downright boring Christmas slasher movie it’s been our displeasure to watch. I’m going spoiler-crazy in this one, so if you’re remotely interested in watching it spoiler-free…then you’re an idiot. Seriously.
What passes for the movie’s only joke comes in the first few minutes, as a couple of British coppers (for this is a British effort) are radioing back to base – “Sierra Lima Alpha Yankee”. Slay! Like the title! Hahahahaha! So anyway, a guy dressed in a sort of beat up Santa outfit breaks into a house to kill the couple inside, but the silent alarm they have also summons the police. The two normal officers get their asses kicked, but then the rough-and-tumble sweary boss turns up and easily defeats the killer (who, aside from one word, stays mute throughout).
Even in these first few minutes, weird decision after weird decision assaults us. First up, the dead couple are sleeping with lit Christmas lights all over the top of their bed. Who does that? Turn them off! Then, as the killer is about to leave, he encounters a girl who asks “have you got any presents for me, Santa?” Reasons this is wrong:
- She looks 14 years old and wouldn’t believe in Santa
- This Santa has no beard
- This Santa is drenched in blood and carrying a knife, also covered in blood
But this is just the first five minutes. We’ve got so much more stupidity to get through! “One year later”, and three women who I guessed were soft-porn stars but all appear to be actual working actors, are off to the Scottish highlands for a Christmas break. I mean, it doesn’t look even a little bit like Scotland, and in fact looks exactly like Bulgaria (which is where it was filmed), but let’s try and suspend our disbelief for a few more moments.
So, these three women, who all look sort of alike (fake-tanned, dark straight hair) although one of them is easily ten years older than the other two, even though all three are in relationships and would presumably have other places to be, have decided to spend Christmas together in a cabin in the middle of nowhere – although, when the director forgets to frame his shots right, you can see they’re in a moderately busy village.
At the same time, there’s a breakout in a nearby mental hospital, and out go two people – a lunatic who wears his pyjamas with one leg rolled up, and Santa from earlier. He hasn’t been taking his medication (I have to assume that people locked up for multiple murders are given a little more oversight than “none”), and when a Santa sent in to…cheer the patients up?…insults our friend, he gets a felt tip pen driven through his skull, allowing our friend to get his outfit back. Now, felt tip pens are significantly less strong than bone and this would never, ever happen, but this isn’t even the stupidest thing to happen in this five minutes.
Time. We see pyjama-man stood at the side of the road threatening the van with our three heroines in it…but then in the next scene we see him in the hospital, pre-escape. Any indication it’s a flashback (which would be confusing anyway, coming just after a “one year later”)? Of course not!
Place. One can assume, from the accents on display from everyone in the first scene, that the initial murders took place in the London area. But, for narrative convenience / to mask the filming location, the killer was transported to a mental hospital in the Scotland area?
After some of the most abysmal banter it’s ever been my misfortune to witness, Emma (Jessica Ann Bonner) emerges as the probable final girl – her boyfriend perhaps cheated on her with her best friend, she seems to have the faintest flickering of a personality, etc. Then the aforementioned best friend turns up, then all their boyfriends start turning up…to this cabin in the extremely remote Scottish highlands, remember.
It’s also at this point that we discover that, no matter how cold it gets, these women were hired to look good in underwear, and it’s them in underwear we’re going to get. Even when they go outside in the snow (!) one of them puts a coat on, but other than that they don’t even seem aware they brought other clothes with them.
One of the boyfriends is a pothead, and we’re treated to a scene of him making a joint, and it’s very clear he’d never made a joint in his life before. This scene, where he sort of builds his joint while his girlfriend lolls on the bed next to him, is perhaps the most tedious scene in the history of cinema, where almost literally nothing happens, for a solid five minutes.
Let’s talk about the killer. One might wonder if there’s some trauma in his past, some Christmas-based upset (much like “Silent Night, Deadly Night”) that causes the Santa outfit to bring out some homcidal tendencies in him. Nope. Well, there might be, it’s just that the movie never bothers telling us that, or indeed anything else, about his character. That he wanders through the woods til he finds some people to kill indicates he’s not got any geographical issues, either. Although more on that later.
Okay, now let’s talk about how horror movies are structured. At about the halfway point, we’ve established that the killer is on the loose and that some girls are in trouble. Two people could get involved – the cop from the beginning, who was set up like a leading man, or the chief doctor at the asylum, who’s upset that the murderers he was looking after have gotten loose. Do you think either of these people show up? Of course not! Well, the cop does, but again, more on him later.
Eventually, in the fashion we’ve come to expect, killer meets final girl, and final girl is victorious. Then it’s Christmas morning! As she sits there, surrounded by the corpses of her friends (not literally, that would be odd), the door to the lodge (complete with Bulgarian translation on it) opens and in walks her boyfriend! To say he’s not got much screen presence is a vast understatement, but that’s not really the issue. He swoops in to take charge of the situation, and they drive to the nearest police station to report all this murder – their phones didn’t work at any point of course, although you’d think a tourist spot with no cell service would at least have a landline. Wait, did I say they’d do something sensible? Of course they don’t! He drives her all the way back to London where she finally has a bath to wash the blood off her. From Scotland. Sat in a car, covered in blood. WHAT THE HELL
And finally, we come to the end. For absolutely no reason whatsoever, Emma is arrested for all the murders, and in a scene of such brain-buggering stupidity it’s hard for me to even believe I watched it, the last we see of her, she’s in that same Scottish asylum we saw people break out of at the beginning, angrily protesting her innocence. I would like to provide you with a little dialogue, courtesy of the same cool cop we saw at the beginning and his skinny female constable, both dressed exactly the same as they were a year ago.
Constable: “They picked up that escaped patient from Moorview a few hours ago. The one that killed all those students up in the highlands.”
Sergeant: “That is good news. Where’d they find him?”
Constable: “It wasn’t a him, it was a her.”
Sergeant: “A her? You sure about that?”
Constable: “Yeah, positive. They found her prints everywhere.”
Now, one would think that at least a few people would be able to vouch for the fact that Emma wasn’t a mental patient, just a young woman with a lot of make-up on; and equally that at least someone would be interested in the mass-murderer who actually did escape, at least as far as knowing what his gender was. But no. The final final scene, where the killer turns up in cool cop’s office, soaked in blood, having healed himself from the multiple axe blows to the head and the knife to the throat he got from Emma, and kills him (despite cool cop having dealt with him in hand-to-hand combat with embarrassing ease at the beginning) , is just another gem.
Now, I hope my words have gotten across just how utterly appalling this movie is. Dull, ugly, stupid, with terrible dialogue, awful special effects and crappy acting, with zero evidence that anyone involved in its making had the slightest idea what they were doing, it’s evidence that too many people have access to enough money and camera equipment to make movies. Or that there are too many outlets – I have Amazon Prime to thank for this (thank the heavens I didn’t pay any actual cash for it).
The one even slight smile comes from the name of the director, one Steve Davis. The Steve Davis that most British people know and love is the former snooker world champion and current snooker TV presenter / obscure music DJ; this Davis appears to be a former nightclub bouncer whose path to the movie business is a puzzler to me.
Please, please, please, avoid this movie, and merry Christmas!
Rating: all the thumbs down