Review: Red Christmas

DVD: Red Christmas (2016)

Diane (Dee Wallace) is a widowed mother whose only wish is to have a relaxing Christmas day with her estranged family. Unfortunately for her, an event that happened 20 years ago will have ramifications for them all.

Kudos have to go to writer/director Craig Anderson, whose trials and tribulations in getting his beloved project onto screens worldwide is seen in a wonderful 2 part ‘behind the scenes’ featurette. Filmed in only 15 days and on a very limited budget, it is testament to his passion and tenacity that Red Christmas is available for us all to watch and enjoy. Thank you for your hard work Craig.

Beginning with a pro-life protest that goes horribly wrong, the story jumps forward by 20 years where we see Diane welcoming her daughters to the family home. Deciding that after the death of her husband, and with his dying wishes, she is going to sell the house and use the proceeds to fund a European adventure. Her daughters are of course not happy about this, but that is the least of their worries as a figure from the past makes an unexpected visit and proceeds to go on a bloody killing spree. Will anybody survive the day?

The low budget is evident from the beginning with the lighting and cinematography, and the acting is never going to win any awards, with the always watchable Dee Wallace of course being the exception and standout performance as the matriarch whose simple plans for the day are eroded all too quickly. These niggles though were soon eroded as I began to empathise more with the characters, despite some of the more obvious character flaws they had. So when the axe started swinging, which it does quite frequently, I genuinely cared for who was going to survive.

There are of course the obligatory bloody kills (one of which is featured in the trailer below, so if you’re one off those people who is lucky enough to watch trailers at work, be warned of who is looking over your shoulder) and a variety of weapons and household implements are once again used in ways which the manufacturer wouldn’t recommend. There is some inconsistency regarding some of the kills, specifically the effect an axe to the head has on 2 different characters. Though that really is just a case of me nit picking.

If you enjoy low budget horror movies, then you can’t go too far wrong with Red Christmas and it’s another to add to your ‘Christmas horror’ watching list. It’s set in Australia, so of course there is an absence of snow, but this in no way takes away from the festive atmosphere.

A surprisingly enjoyable movie that grew on me as the narrative unfolded. Make sure to watch that great 2 part featurette on the making of Red Christmas, and settle down with an eggnog for the insightful commentary track by Craig Anderson and actor Gerard O’Dwyer.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Umbrella Entertainment.