All Through the House (2016) is the second feature written and directed by Todd Nunes and produced by the Readmond Company (Stephen J. Readmond and Christopher Stanley). The movie opens with three young boys vandalizing a Christmas display on someone’s lawn, knocking the strange metallic gray mask with Santa hair and beard off of a life-size Santa Claus that turns out to be something, maybe a mannequin, wrapped in burlap. A barefoot and unseen person (Lito Velasco), possibly in hospital pants inspects the damage and doesn’t seem happy about it because they pick up a pair of hedge shears, basically giant scissors, and don the gray metallic mask with Santa hair. So I’m going to go ahead and call this a classic slasher-style film. Most online sites call him Santa Slayer, so I’ll go with that.
Santa Slayer is let into a house by a young boy whose mother takes a shower. The boyfriend or husband returns home, and they plan on some lovemaking. Okay, switching mode from PG 13 to modern R, but if this were the 80s, it’d be an X, and it is integral to the plot, so here goes. Now, I only sum up the first ten minutes leaving out what I deem as only world-shattering spoilers, so forgive me for these ten minutes, but it’ll certainly set the tone for the flick.
Santa Slayer kills the woman in the shower. Now, I said hedge shears, and Santa Slayer is pretty good with measuring out the dual blades perfectly on her. Her boyfriend is in the other room, uhm, priming the pump as requested by his woman, and well, Santa Slayer cuts that off, and we even see it hit the floor. The boy, by the way, is fine.
Rachel Kimmel (Ashley Mary Nunes) returns home for Christmas to her grandmother (Cathy Garrett) and leaves a present under the tree for her deceased mother. On her way in, Rachel saw Mrs. Garrett (Melynda Kiring) outside giving an officer a statement concerning her vandalized Santa display, and inside Rachel reads a card from Garrett asking her to help her decorate her house. Did you turn your head like a questioning dog? Was the actress who played Rachel’s grandmother the name-spiration for the lady next door?
Rachel meets her two friends Sheila (Jessica Cameron) and Sarah (Danica Riner), the latter of whom surprises Rachel with Rachel’s estranged ex-boyfriend Cody (Jason Ray Schumacher). The three women go over to Mrs. Garrett’s to set up her decorations. While all that is going on our Santa Slayer is keeping funeral homes in business dispatching various people.
It’s Mrs. Garrett, however, who deserves the most time here for both story and acting. Her house appears decorated already, but apparently, she still needs help. I spotted at least three trees in a row, as well as two mannequins, one female in a nice red dress and one male dressed as St. Nick, the female representing her long-time missing daughter, Jamie, and the male her husband who’s now in prison. Melynda Kiring pulls off crazy pretty well. I wouldn’t say top ten but I’d put her in a list of top twenty-five crazy women ever—movies and TV, not reality.
Rachel and her friends delve further into the mystery of Mrs. Garrett’s missing daughter, as Santa Slayer slashes some more, culminating in a couple of original twists by the end of the movie.
All Through the House is a valiant effort at establishing a modern slasher mythology utilizing the one major holiday no slasher has ever really dominated—you can argue with me on that—as well as establishing an iconic weapon of choice and a memorable mask too. However, is the slasher film dead? Was the self-reflective and simultaneous parody-slash-satire Scream (1996) the death knell of the slasher flick? What is the magic formula that drew an audience for this genre in the past, and how is it different today? If you’re into unique kills this film has it. If you’re into a dark kind of sarcastic ironic humor this film might be for you. If you’re up for some surprises at the end All Though the House has it.
The soundtrack is above par, not that 80s style soundtrack where the songs sound like they should be popular but aren’t. The twisted ending is actually pretty good. And if the movie came out in the 80s it would have been amongst the second tier of slasher flicks, and would probably be well-remembered as such. But no matter how much I want it to be, it’s not the 80s—emoji sad face.
The main characters all bring it home with Melynda Kiring’s Mrs. Garrett leading the way, but—spoiler for the rest of this paragraph—the scenes involving random Santa Slayer victims in the beginning all fall flat. They might be having sex, which you don’t want to do in a slasher flick, but they’re not part of the Scooby Gang, and their deaths are kind of randomly episodic.
I’m actually more curious about Todd Nunes freshman effort Scary Larry (2014). He and the Readmond Company will be joining up again for Death Ward 13, which is supposed to be influenced by S.F. Brownrigg’s Don’t Look in the Basement (1973), which is holy ground for me, so I’ll be looking out for that one too.