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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, December 8, 2023

Christmas Blood (2017)

A killer Santa movie from Norway! I’ve not seen one of those before… I mean I’ve seen one from Finland and another from the Netherlands (okay technically not Santa Claus but close enough!). But I’ve never seen one from Norway. Honestly, I was pretty excited to check it out.

The movie opens with a little girl sneaking downstairs to check out the presents under the tree while her father or maybe stepfather is snoring blissfully away. She tears and rattles things all while we see someone lurking behind her. There is a muffled scream and the father wakes up. Investigating the sound, he finds the girl dead and is quickly dispatched himself by someone dressed as Santa. The police arrive and find them butchered but manage to locate the killer and one of the cops, detective Rasch, puts several rounds into him.

As the credits roll, we see that the killer had been busy for many years racking up a body count well over a hundred. He also kept a naughty list that the police find, but never figure out why they were targeted. Though there is a bit of a throwaway line about them all being in trouble with the law at some point in time. We also find out that the killer Santa survived the shooting and was quietly and secretly locked up. But he has busted out, so it is up to a new detective, Hansen, to find him before too much murder occurs. Spoilers… it gets very bloody before he recruits the now retired and perpetually drunk Rasch to help him.

All while this is happening we meet up with another set of characters. They are all coming to an isolated town far in the north reaches of Norway to visit a friend named Julia. We find out that her mother was on Santa’s list but committed suicide. Though that doesn’t seem to bother the killer as when he arrives he just starts tearing thru Julia and her guests. Eventually the detectives figure out the pattern and arrive in time to save Julia, but her friends are toast. I suppose that is a spoiler but if you have ever watched a movie like this you should readily identify them as fodder for the body count. Things wrap up… well honestly, they don’t which is one of the issues I have with Christmas Blood.

I wanted to like this movie and there are things that I do enjoy, but it also has a couple fatal flaws that drag it down. The story is interesting with the killer having a naughty list that isn’t ever totally explained. I do like some mystery as to motivations when I’m watching what is basically a slasher movie. Sometimes the idea of a random killer targeting for reasons that no one really knows is scary. But then the story just meanders thru the hour and forty four minute runtime tossing characters at us who do nothing to move the plot around.

We see a sequence with Hansen visiting a morgue that allows the filmmakers to show us a very naked woman and a coroner who apparently loves pastries and likes to eat while he works. Admittedly this is amusing in sick way, but after spending time on it the detective declares it has nothing to do with the killer Santa and it is never mentioned again. We also have a random killing of a couple cops that are investigating someone on the list and find a body. They are then killed off themselves. Why bother? I mean we already know that the guy is a brutal killer, which is reinforced later, so what is up with the random characters just introduced to die?

This isn’t the first example of unneeded characters slowing things down. Before the killer arrives at the girls we get a couple of brothers added to the menu of victims who are there solely to die though not before participating in a drawn out “partying” dance montage. One of them does get to assault one of the women before being dispatched so I guess we are supposed to get some satisfaction out of his death. But really did we need a date rape in this flick? It adds nothing to the story other than a bit of nastiness. Hell, the girl doesn’t last more than a minute or two after her rapist and is killed in another way that violates her. Yeah, think The Mutilator. So now I was bored and annoyed which isn’t a good combination.

You'd better watch out... behind you!
I will give the movie credit for some inventive kills and the fact that they are plentiful. We get fifteen kills, with some happening offscreen and others being seen after the fact. There are butchered bodies, some head bashing, more than one decapitation (including the little girl in the beginning), some throat cutting, and lots of guts. Really this killer likes to drive his axe into many a midsection which leads to more than one person rolling around with their own intestines in hand. They must have really dug that effect/appliance because they use it a few times. There is a very Evil Dead fountain of blood as well. But my favorite kill in the movie has to be the guy getting his spine ripped out. Does it make sense? Not at all but I thought it was a fun gag.

I’ll also say that I thought a couple of the jump scares worked well. But in the end this movie is saddled with far too many characters and subplots to ever create any momentum. So, while the gore is an excellent payoff the scenes leading up to it failed to keep my interest. Overall it makes for a boring watch, and I can’t recommend Christmas Blood. There are much better Killer Santa movies out there to watch this most festive time of the year.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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