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Secret Santa (2018)

'Secret Santa' is a 2018 Christmas themed horror movie from writer and director Adam Marcus. A director more commonly known for directing the box office and critical disaster that is 'Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday'. With that in mind, and the very limited credentials he has had since the release of that movie, its fair to say expectations were not high for his latest attempts at a career revitalisation.

The film making itself isn't of the highest of standard and falls into some amateur level troupes fairly early on. From unfocused camera work to constant unbalanced framing, the action sequences become rather nauseating under Adam Marcus' poor sense of direction. However for me, being someone who prides themselves on loving direct to DVD 90s horror, this standard of production is something I've become accustomed to and over the years have learned to accept from these types of movies.

As for the plot of 'Secret Santa', whilst adding a pinch of its own unique flavours along the way, isn't anything new. It follows a basic A-B premise, that is fairly predictable in terms of its overall outcome and accountability in the 'who's done it' slasher style way. I would say it does have a slight pacing issue with its opening character exposition, but this character development does become a vital part to the overall narrative of the story. If like me you do find yourself struggling with the first 30 minutes or so, I will say the pay off is worth the wait. Once momentum kicks in, it rarely slows until the closing credits.

Although the quality of the cast is on the lower end of the scale, given the campy tone, they all feel rather well suited to the movie. For me the most recognisable cast member is that of Drew Lynch, more famous for his stand up than his acting, something that was fairly easy to see why pretty early on. Everyone else involved is either extremely forgettable or provides nothing worthy of noting. As is usually the case with horror movies of this standard, they are here to serve a purpose... cannon fodder and the odd moment of comedic humor and if I was to base my critique on those merits, everyone here delivers.

The kill sequences and effects work are of a very bad standard. Either heavily glossed in bad CGI or lazily constructed practical effects. Even with that in mind though they are quite creative in terms of the idea behind them and soon become wildly entertaining for all of the wrong reasons. Utilising a variety of Christmas themes weapons and paired with some outlandish reactions from the cast as the injuries are inflicted upon them, its hard not find yourself basking in all of its over the top absurdity.

There is no denying how bad of a movie 'Secret Santa' would be considered to general audiences, but if like me, you have an affinity for all things schlocky b-movie horror, than this may just be the perfect Christmas movie for you this year. Just know going in that this is poorly executed in every possible way, but makes for ideal "its-so-bad, it-good" level of mindless entertainment, something that I feel has a very deserving place within the horror community.



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