Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Dreck" the halls: Craig Anderson's "nut"meg eggnog, RED CHRISTMAS, hits a few theaters

Can you make a decent slasher movie while tossing in themes of religion, pregnancy, parenting and abortion, among other things? Yes, if your film is as good as, say, She Who Must Burn. But a big, fat "no," if the new RED CHRISTMAS, written and directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Anderson, serves as a more recent indication. Once the killing starts -- among family members gathered to celebrate here -- these characters begin acting stupider and stupider, breaking even the cardinal rule of this kind of film: When under siege, you idiots, stick the fuck together!

Mr. Anderson, pictured at right, proves pretty good when he keeps his gore effects on the subtle side, as in the "offing" of his first victim (below, left), a nasty Outback outlier who makes quite unnecessary fun of the movie's Michael Myers/Jason/Fred Krueger stand-in, a poor cobbled-together creature named Cletus, who arrives unbidden but hell-bent for revenge at the family gathering mentioned above.  The second killing (but the first, so far as this family is concerned) is also handled with exquisite tact/taste.

Following that, however, the bigtime stupidity sets it, and the movie, as well as all its further killings, never recovers. Characters begin doing things for either no discernible reason that makes any sense -- other than merely separating them from the pack so that each can be "offed" more easily -- or to give the filmmaker another opportunity to grace us with further tiresome past history/exposition.

The cast is mostly Australian, with the exception of Dee Wallace (below), who plays the family matriarch with appropriate fear and ferocity, though even she finally joins the full-out nonsense on parade here. If you're a fan of Ms Wallace, better to revisit The Howling (does she not make the cutest werewolf in film history?), or even E.T., than waste your time with this one.

Other cast members meet either grizzly ends, via very unbelievable-looking "special effects," as below, or find themselves on the wrong end of various lethal objects. Either way, you'll probably be drumming your fingers in something like boredom, waiting for the final body count, as it piles up with tiresome regularity.

What's particularly grueling about Red Christmas is the highly unlikable group of characters thrust upon us by Mr. Anderson. They argue incessantly, while they're not doing dumb things, and as the increasingly obvious chunks of wholesale exposition come plotzing out, you'll find yourself more than ready for this overlong-even-at-82-minutes movie to end.

The film opens with demonstrations pro and con regarding abortion, above, and with a flashback sequence on which a lot of what happens later depends (below), but whatever the filmmaker might imagine he's trying to say here

gets quickly and thoroughly lost within the extreme idiocy of his poorly concocted characters. As my spouse remarked wearily, post- viewing, "What should have been aborted was this movie."

From Artsploitation Films (great moniker, by the way!) and arriving in a Los Angeles theater (Laemmle's Music Hall 3) this Friday, August 25 (just four month prior to the holiday!) for a once-daily showing at 9:55 pm, Red Christmas will then expand to San Francisco, Denver, Dallas and other cities over the weeks to come. 

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