Christmas Evil | Varied Celluloid

Christmas Evil

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 17 - 2008
Originally written by Prof. Aglaophotis


Plot Outline: Harry Stadling is a middle-aged New Yorker who has a deep obsession with Christmas…But not only with Christmas, but with Santa Claus as well. Ever since he was a boy, his pragmatic younger brother Philip would deny him of Santa’s existence, even after one Christmas night when Harry, Philip and their mother witnessed Santa performing his nightly rounds in their living room. After witnessing this, he decided to circumvent the room only to see Santa Claus and his mother doing a few smooth moves on each other. To further express his infatuation with Santa and his love for Christmas, Harry keeps track of all of the local kids in his neighborhood to see if they’ve been bad or good and he works in the Jolly Dream toy factory that functions primarily during the winter. However, as the mundane circumstances around him begin to fluctuate and his concern for the quality of the toys escalates, Harry’s desire to become Santa Claus grows deeper and once he gets to that point, there’s no telling what Harry will do in order to prove that he himself is Jolly old Saint Nick.


  

The Review
As one may observe in psychological/serial killer thriller movies, the killers will often display the motivation of purity through their actions no matter how trifling or detrimental those actions are; in the killer’s mind, what they are doing is not only right or satisfying, it is purifying to them as well. This is an element that really shines in Christmas Evil, for what could be a more pure and innocent, yet justifying symbol of adult responsibility that can bring happiness into a family than that of the pseudo-American Christmas icon Santa Claus? I know, Christ wouldn’t be a bad guess, but it doesn’t come close to lighting the jolliness part. Also, as one would observe in certain pertaining thriller movies is that the killer displays in one fashion or another the desire of transformation which is another realistic (in the psychological sense) attribute shown in Christmas Evil.

The synthesized soundtrack brought some chilling moments in the movie to life as our main character’s mind dwindled away, but with it’s synthesized/Christmas tune soundtrack, it tended to go a little too far at times and sounds slightly kooky at certain moments. The diction was surprisingly well done amongst various actors, although most of the times they emphasized on the vague message being set in the movie (most early psychological horror films had them and most of them were equivocate, yet biased enough to receive criticism and in this it’s almost no exception), as we hear an old woman after witnessing three innocent/incessant people get murdered eventually blurt out in a conversation: ‘They had it coming!’ …Uh-huh. Most of the spectacle reflected on well on what was going on around the main character as we see oppressive, draconian posters and paintings of Santa whenever the need for discipline needs to be made amongst others in Harry’s mind. Unfortunately the killings weren’t much to brag about as they were slightly far-fetched as most of them consisted of a hatchet that looked more like a toy and one victim’s throat was slashed by the star from a Christmas tree. As humorous as this is for a holiday horror film, it really doesn’t fit the reality that we’ve been fed throughout the entire movie, especially when he had a kitchen knife on him the entire time (although we see one quick eye gouge, it’s really not as cringing as one would expect). Perhaps the finest spectacle in the movie is the lead Brandon Maggart (Fiona Apple’s dad), as he thoroughly brings his character to life through his psychosis, voyeuristic tendencies and dialogue. One of the things I am sure Christmas Evil gets bartered on is the simple fact that there are times where our killer altogether stops stalking or killing and just enjoys himself: there is one scene where after impetuously murdering two nosy Englishmen and a woman, he drives out and begins wandering the block, only to find a party that more than happily welcomes him to join in the festivities, in which he is not in a given situation to snap and his jolly spirit is brought back into him, where he is a needed and respected individual. As ineffective in a horror movie as that is I will admit, it is a remarkably effective use of studying the character in different situations. As stated earlier, the movie brings up those previously mentioned unique psychological attributes/motives of a certain killer or even a voyeur and getting a sociologic aspect of the killer is also beneficial for the sake of character study, especially when the character is a homicidal maniac who longs to be Santa Claus.

The Conclusion
If one were to view Christmas Evil and hate it for its lack of good kills, all chills and creepiness, but no gore, then that’s perfectly understandable, but the intelligence and stalker-based-creepiness crafted into the movie is evident, so it is going to be hard to miss. I will admit that it’s not a movie for every horror movie goer as we all have different tastes and it is very understanding if one were to say that it comes off as mediocre at times seeing that it’s most entertaining/unique aspect is the main character, but it makes for what it has to offer and is good for those of you looking for something a little different in the genre.


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