Starring: Riley Dandy, Sam Delich and Jonah Ray
Do you see yourself as that one person who needs blood and carnage to balance out all the cutesy and saccharine sweet feel-good mushiness from sentimental holiday movies filling up your cable channels and streaming services every Winter season? Well, fortunately for your freaky arse, director Joe Begos of the scifi slasher Almost Human (2013) and bloody siege thriller VFW (2019) is bringing holiday fears with a good ole' slasher that's crass in class, proud to be loud and jolly to be bloody!
All Tori (Riley Dandy) wanted to do after working her Christmas Eve shift at a record store is score a good time with some dude she met at Tinder. But after finding out that the guy is married with kids and is living with his parents, she decided to ditch the lame shmuck and instead accepts her friend and colleague Robbie's (Sam Delich) invitation to hang out and paint the town red. After stopping by to visit some buddies working at a toy store and getting piss-assed drunk at a bar, the two soon made their way to Tori's house for steamy sex and obnoxiously loud conversations about each other's taste for records and horror sequels, unaware that a life-sized animatronic Santa called "RoboSanta+" suddenly have gone haywire and, channeling its inner circuitry as an intended military-grade killer robot, starts murdering off any people it comes across as it makes its way to end Tori.
One half killer Santa slasher, one half festive Terminator (1984) knock-off, Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022) has the makings to be an outrageous exploitation throwback breathing some variety to yet another axe-wielding Santa trope and it succeeds in this with its on-the-nose yet unapologetically manic execution, delivering a rather wild yet worthwhile B-grade holiday horror flick that's as entertaining as it is clunky at parts.
The first thirty minutes can be a chore to sit through, being a crude hangout story following two adults acting like unsupervised teenagers with their hooting and hollering, drug snorting and beer guzzling. It is annoyingly immature, wearying and foul at its worst, as there's only so much swear-littered dialogue and grating blunderings one could take before the charm of it all is lost, but I will be lying if I didn't say I got some chuckles out of it (especially around their riled-up talk about horror sequels. Glad to see that mess Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) still has its fans) and I have to give praises to the actors for doing a swell job delivering a genuine feel to their roles. Things eventually got better once RoboSanta+ finally lumbers their way to Tori's residence, stopping by and breaking into a neighboring house first for a grimly effective home invasion-cum-family massacre before forcing their way to Tori's and everyone gets an axe blow or two to places that definitely hurt.
The kills here are gloriously practical and rubbery yet gory, a lovely throwback to 70s and 80s slashers, much like the film's grainy visuals and candy-colored lightning, as well as its retrowave synth score. The killer robot Santa itself is a decent take on a popular holiday horror staple, bearing a passable explanation for its durability and strength, and too has thrown enough hints here and there as to why exactly it's splitting people in halves with an axe, but still leaving enough to the viewer's imagination regarding its specific interest on hunting down Tori. I do love the fact that it started out looking so much like your average Saint Nick with a murderous streak before gradually getting more and more damaged the further it struggles to end our final girl, revealing the flashy machinations inside it with some goofy but otherwise fitting make-up effects.
And by struggle, I mean struggle! The final face-off is where the whole Terminator gig kicks in, running through the last third of the film and it's every way as harebrained as it is badass. It came to a point where our robot Santa is nothing but a metal endoskeleton with sparks and wires hanging out damaged and yet it still manages to be quite a challenge to put down as the menace survives every form of abuse Tori inflicts at it. This is where our lead turns from a screechy party girl to a gore-drenched heroine and I gotta say that the endless barrage of attacks from the mecha-maniac is only as good as the trappings and counter attacks its intended victim hurl back against it and this last act certainly delivers on that department, so long as you don't mind it dragging on a bit with all the robo fake-outs.
Without a doubt a slasher film for the undemanding, Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022) may suffer from a couple of clods in its writing, but as a straightforward bodycounter made to be entertainingly ridiculous and gruesomely bloody, I say it has done its best! If you get to switch off that big melon resting between your shoulders, feel free to see it as it can be a good watch. Just, maybe, prepare some booze and ready your finger towards the flashforward button...
1 male split in half with an axe
1 female repeatedly beaten against a glass counter
1 male gets a thrown axe to the back, head stomped
1 female hacked on the face with an axe
1 boy hacked with an axe
1 female had her neck broken
1 male killed offscreen with an axe
1 male had his head cleaved with an axe
1 male hacked on the head with an axe
1 male has his head blown off with a shotgun
1 male killed offcamera, mangled body hurled and seen
1 male shot on the head with a shotgun