It's Christmas and Diane has to protect her family when a stranger knocks on the door, handing her a weird letter. The Christmas spirit is quickly ruined when the stranger starts butchering the family one by one. But why is this maniac out to get this particular family?
I don't miss a chance to check out a movie starring my favorite scream queen, Dee Wallace. I also don't want to miss a fun Christmas horror (hell, I even liked "Krampus"!). If it can also promise some good ol' splatter, then sign me up! Craig Anderson's "Red Christmas" should be a great way to spend the evening, as it promises all of the goodness above. Right? Well, I hoped so, but it didn't take long before I saw my expectations burning to the ground.
The story is about Diane and her family spending Christmas together. There's some tension going on due to her having decided that she wants to sell the old house - something that the children strongly believe that their dead father wouldn't want. The arguments quickly seem unimportant when a stranger knocks on the door, claiming that he is part of the family. Diane promptly throws him out. But he returns with his axe, to chop them all up one after one.
So what did I find bad about "Red Christmas"? The story is actually not bad for a slasher. However, the movie is so extremely uneven in how it executes it. The plot is quite serious and heavy at times, but for some reason the movie continues to lean towards some really horrible comedy. I'm talking about quotes like "we're gonna need a bigger bowl", or exclaiming "they're here!" in a very familiar manner. I'm talking about an antagonist who speaks and acts as if he came out of the 2004 horror-comedy "Freak Out". And I am even talking about how some of the deaths go down. There's also a closet-homosexual priest in the movie. The movie shouldn't have resorted to being so silly when it didn't need it at all. As a slasher, this could have been a fun, cheesy-yet-sincere, bloody and colorful throwback (sure, the colors are a bit much, but still). Instead it constantly reminds us that whatever interesting ideas it has, don't really matter because everything is stupid.
It's unbelievable how certain moments of "Red Christmas" feel like a backyard production (especially the antagonist character), when you have a massive horror star like Dee Wallace in the lead, and the awesome Doug Burgdorff as the director of photography (it shows). It's a good production actually, and yet it becomes utterly stupid for some bad jokes. It's almost as if the script was entirely serious, but the team decided to have a little fun while shooting so they started improvising shit. It's sad. In the actual production, I have no real issues. The lighting is a bit extreme, sure, but at least the movie is well shot, has pretty good actors all around, and no typical indie film issues (such as sound).
Now, the movie does get a bit more entertaining around its later half. It's a pretty bloody movie, and it doesn't mind being over-the-top about it. I guess you could say that it complements the bad humour, but I'd disagree anyway. I am perfectly fine with a serious slasher with over-the-top violence. Anyway, it starts picking up and at the very least we get some action going. There are some kills that were fun, and then some that were outright bizarre (the finale especially), and it becomes a decent way to waste your time. You just need to make it through the beginning and some later bits that drag out.
There are many things in "Red Christmas" that I didn't like, and while my instinct would say that you can find better modern slashers out there, I also think it is decent enough to check out. Some of the odd stuff in the movie make it stand out, even if the decisions don't make a whole lot of sense. And it has Dee Wallace, and Dee Wallace is always incredible!