Review: If you just want to see some raunchy, gory fun on a holiday night, there aren’t many options better than Joe Begos’ latest movie Christmas Bloody Christmas.
It’s Christmas season, and y’know what Christmas season means? Horror movies. Believe it or not, horror has found its way into the holiday season as a sort of counterculture to the wave of festive flicks streaming services force down our throats each December. Nowadays, for each uplifting, warmhearted Hallmark release, there’s a gnarly slasher about some Santa guy putting bodies in graves. Violent Night represented some of the best this genre can offer (even if it had some of its own minor issues) so I figured while I was in the festive spirit to see townies enwrapped in St. Nick’s devious affairs, why not check out Christmas Bloody Christmas.
And it helps that the film is a Shudder original release available to steam at this moment for its subscribers. As a completionist, I like to finish the movies that I start, but I know people in my life that give a film 20 minutes to pull them in or they begin to look elsewhere. Christmas Bloody Christmas is an ideal example for this method because everything that you get in the first 20 minutes is an appetizer for what the whole film is like.
This is all to say that I know people are going to love Christmas Bloody Christmas. It has a neon retro-style color scheme that I mostly dug, a script meant only for those over the age of 21, and some real bloody scenes that’ll make even the biggest horror fans squirm. Director Joe Begos is known for this style at this point with recent films VFW and Bliss both garnering cultlike followings for there similar brutal and crass nature. And while I may have had some issues with it, I can understand the appeal for what Begos attempts to achieve in making this anti-Christmas spectacle.
Because Christmas Bloody Christmas sure hates the holiday season. The film stars Riley Dandy as Tori and Sam Delich as Robbie – two record store workers down in the feels over another Christmas spent drinking alone in the dimly lit rural town that they reside in. As they hop from store front to store front, a defense robot dressed up as Santa Claus unleashes havoc on the town’s civilians and leaves a trail of bodies behind it.
The film has a slow burning first half as we spend most of it with Tori and Robbie as they argue about the best rock bands, Christmas films, and their own personal relationships outside of the workplace. The general dialogue doesn’t offer up more than conveying that these two people are truly close friends and care deeply about one another; a way to set up the stakes later on when they come face to face with jolly old Saint Nicholas.
When the film finally begins to dish out the horror that it foreshadows, it’s a nonstop entertainment vehicle. The kills are gory, the set pieces are mostly entertaining, and the momentum keeps ramping up. Christmas Bloody Christmas has its few shares of highlights – but like most C-level horror flicks, the film also has some weaknesses that I couldn’t help but constantly be reminded of.
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Its dialogue, while punching at the start, grows old fast. Cursing and lowbrow humor can be fun for a bit, but it grows stale as the film winds on, especially when it’s low on horror elements for the beginning half of the film. It leans heavily on the character development between the two main leads, but there isn’t much development going on besides learning about both characters’ tastes in music and art. It becomes predictable after a few minutes, and I found myself slowly drifting away from what Begos was trying to build.
And while the kills are fun, I didn’t find many of them to be completely memorable. It may be because of the obsession I have with some of the horror greats, but I need kills to be extraordinarily original at this point to win me over.
If you’re not like me and you just want to see some raunchy, gory fun on a holiday night, there aren’t many options better than Joe Begos’ Christmas Bloody Christmas. I’ve seen quite a bit of praise over this Shudder release, and I can see the appeal. I just didn’t find much new here that would ever warrant a rewatch from me in the future. Riley Dandy and Sam Delich are the highlights of the film – both easily sinking into their own roles and having excellent chemistry with each other. I’m more interested in the film they think they’re in than the one actually on screen. Better lighting and an emphasis on those two characters more would’ve done Christmas Bloody Christmas a lot of help.
Joe Begos’ Christmas Bloody Christmas offers much that his first two films offer – retro colors that are intoxicating to look at, dialogue that oozes with acid and crassness, and a few kills with excellent practical effects. While the elements are pieces that I prefer quite a bit, the film loses me in forgettable character arcs and an overall sense of purposelessness.
Where to watch Christmas Bloody Christmas: Shudder
Christmas Bloody Christmas Film Cast and Credits
Riley Dandy as Tori
Sam Delich as Robbie
Jonah Ray Rodrigues as Jay
Dora Madison as Lahna
Jeff Daniel Phillips as Sheriff Monroe
Abraham Benrubi as Santa Claus
Director: Joe Begos
Writer: Joe Begos
Cinematography: Brian Sowell
Editor: Josh Ethier
Composer: Steve Moore
Christmas Bloody Christmas movie on Letterboxd
Christmas Bloody Christmas movie on IMDb