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Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

Based on my previous experience with Christmas horror films, I find that it's a real struggle to encapsulate the essence of the festive period and still maintain the standard we have come to expect from a solid horror movie. When I heard the announcement that Director Joe Begos who directed one of my most enjoyable horror movies of the year (Bliss) was directing, writing and producing a seasonal horror, I was beyond excited.

Begos has few notable feature length films under his belt in 'VFW' and 'Bliss' and his latest effort 'Christmas Bloody Christmas' and it's clear that he is creating a certain brand for himself with his productions. From the neon noir colour pallet, his existential angst views of the world on show in his writing and 80's heavily drenched punk rock undertones. Begos has a direct to video B-movie aesthetics about all of his productions that is nothing short of mesmerising, a technique he once again puts on display perfectly here. Combining all of these aspects with some incredible direction and cinematography, Begos once again has shown he knows how to make a visual delight.

Another thing Begos films are garnering a reputation for is their incredible use of score and soundtrack, bringing back his long-standing collaboration with artist and musician Steven Moore certainly helps with that. Moore is an incredible talent and his work here is just as impressive as everything that has come before it. As well as Moore's return, Dora Madison lead actress from 'Bliss' makes a brief yet notable appearance which I found to represent an excellent passing of the torch to the latest final girl Tori.

Begos has a way of bringing out the most authentic of performances from his cast and nothing puts that on display better than the character dynamic between his lead actress Riley Dandy who plays Tori and Sam Delich who plays Robbie. Together these two give one of the most relatable and engaging performances I've seen in horror for some time. As well as being relatable, Tori is one of the most realistic final girls I've seen in quite some time too, making some genuinely rational choices in a genre of film that usually throws all rationality out of the window. Another notable performance come from Jeff Daniel Phillips who is slowly becoming favorite of mine, showing incredible range in his abilities as an actor, I hope he continues to take on roles in the horror genre.

The practical side of the make up effects is truly outstanding, using puppetry and replicas for almost every kill. If you are a fan of gore and practical effects than this certainly will not disappoint. The shear brutality and strength of an animatronic robot is displayed perfectly, cutting humans in half with ease and leaving a trail of blood and human destruction behind it. If I was to criticise anything I feel that the movements of animatronic Santa felt to human and could have done to have been even more robotic. I think this is why the decision to add a squeaky robot noise as he moves to amplify and distract from its slight flaws.

Along with my minor issue with the animatronic portrayal of Santa, I feel like from the police station onwards it just became one big final final showdown between Tori and Santa. That's not to say that I found this showdown to be bad in any way, I just think that there should have been a few more locations and kills before reaching this grand finale. Even just an extra ten minutes would have eradicated this problem for me by padding out the rapid A to B style approach I felt the story had.

Overall, I found 'Christmas Bloody Christmas' to be a very entertaining. In a sub-genre of horror that is rather lacking in quality it's good to have a film that I know will now be an annual festive watch for me. And whilst it's not perfect, it's certainly another top tier production from a man who has now become my most eagerly anticipated director. I'm excited to see where Begos goes next in the world of horror and if its anything like his previous work, I'm sure it will not disappoint.



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