Last week I reviewed the Australian film Bad Blood and found it lacking thanks to an unwillingness to commit to plot twists that went above and beyond the expectations of the audience. Particularly given the expectations that a lot of other splattertastic contemporary Aussie films have set. Well, the also Australian Red Christmas has no qualms about making a bloody, gory, transgressive instant holiday horror classic. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s got the incomparable Dee Wallace as the family matriarch. For Craig Anderson’s feature film debut, we are gifted with what on the surface looks like a typical holiday horror film with a dysfunctional family gathering together for the holidays before becoming a bloodbath, but the opening immediately puts the audience on unfamiliar footing with abortion protesters, an explosion at the clinic, and an aborted fetus being fished out of the garbage, still alive somehow. It’s a shocking move, especially for a cold open, but then we jump twenty years later and see exactly what the game is going to be. Wallace plays Diane, a widowed mother of four adult children who is determined to make this final Christmas in the family home the best one ever, before she sells it and uses the money to go on a European tour (to some of her family’s chagrin). Hope (Deelia Meriel) is the rebellious teen, Ginny (Janis McGavin) is the pregnant hell-raiser, Suzy (Sarah Bishop) is the fundamentalist Christian, and Jerry (Gerard Odwyer) is the Shakespeare-obsessed older brother with Down’s Syndrome. Diane’s pot-addled brother Joe (Geoff Morrell), Hope’s handsome, athletic husband Scott (Bjorn Stewart), and Suzy’s not-so-secretly bi-curious priest husband Peter (David Collins) are also on hand to help keep the body count rising. Tensions rise as the conflicting personalities clash, but then a Christmas miracle occurs. Cletus (Sam Campbell) arrives, his hideously deformed body draped in a filthy hooded cloak (and stinking of urine after a run-in with a drunk – a run-in that doesn’t go well for the drunk) with a message of love and forgiveness for his mother. As one might imagine, it doesn’t go down well. Dee Wallace is the center of this film and her performance really holds the whole project together. When other performances occasionally fall flat or miss a comedic beat, Wallace is there to keep everything on track. And for a low-budget horror film like Red Christmas, having that anchor helps to elevate every aspect of the production. It’s also a testament to Anderson’s 15 years of television and short film experience that the film looks as good as it does on a budget. Christmas lighting and a reliance on solid color gels help give Red Christmas a stylish, Argento or Winding Refn look and a few of the more violent kills brought a Japanese splatter enthusiasm to the mix. The complex relationships established in the beginning pay off as the family is picked off one-by-one (and it’s no surprise that Hope is the first to die after Cletus’ violent rejection – Hope dies, get it?) and Wallace’s Diane steps up to take charge. But the most powerful and disturbing part of the film isn’t so much the gore or the humor, but when Jerry finds out that Cletus was aborted because he had Down’s Syndrome and Diane couldn’t face raising a second developmentally-challenged child with her husband fighting cancer. In that moment Gerard Odwyer’s performance goes from solid to amazing, and it pushes Wallace into an extremely raw place as well. The film doesn’t take a political stance on the abortion question and doesn’t really intend to go much deeper than playing with the idea of bad decisions coming back to haunt you later in life, but as far as metaphors go, it’s a good one. By dredging up all the shame and secrecy that Diane had buried over the years raising the rest of her family, Red Christmas is a very effective splatter-filled holiday horror film that doesn’t seem concerned with offending people; and I think there are going to be a fair amount of people getting offended. See larger image Red Christmas [Blu-ray] Horror legend Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, E.T., Cujo, Critters) stars as the stressed-out mother of a squabbling family, gathered together in a remote Outback estate on Christmas Eve. When a mysterious, deformed young man named Cletus appears at their door, things soon change from petty insults to bloody, imaginatively orchestrated violence as Wallace attempts to protect her family from the vengeful intruder. The film deliriously infuses comedy, dark family secrets with outlandish gore and adds the always controversial subject of abortion in its blood-stained mix. New From: $11.17 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.