We’ve only gone and done it again. A brand new movie marathon don’t you know. And as the Christmas decorations went up so early in our house, our festive venture into thus-themed films began just a few days ago. As with Halloween (Remember the 50 Films for Halloween parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five), the wife and I will plow through 50 films – about Christmas, set at Christmas, either throughout or just a few scenes. Hell, a mere mention of Christmas ought to do it. Over the next month and a half we shall watch (at least) 50 Films for Christmas – mostly ones neither of us have seen, though I suspect some we have might slip through the net. Here are the first five, you can see the horror theme has not quite left us yet.
A good Christmas scare-fest I was hoping for, but alas a rather in affecting, spook-repeller came my way. Krampus is a terrible advert for Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year, and when we finally meet the title myth he appears to be an overgrown, homeless old man who can’t close his mouth. His little minions, squeaky gingerbread men and a sadistic teddy bear for example, also infuriate rather than entertain. My wife was right to ask, what us Toni Collette doing in this?
A unique and refreshing surprise on screen can come when you genuinely don’t know where the film is taking you. The odd, but compelling Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale bizarrely makes sense by the end, but the journey through intrigue, suspense, drama is an accomplished one. Rewarding to have a movie be credited with the skill of building up momentum, regardless of where that might end up. You’ll certainly see Santa in a different light too.
My wife sold this to me not by claiming “poor reviews”, but rather that it featured “Emily Blunt”. And that is one of the very few plus points here, although Blunt is perfectly fetching you know long before the film ends that she is wasted in this. Also effective on the surface is the cold chill of the potentially life-taking location, but the lackluster direction seems unaware on how to utilize this for tension. The script and characterisation is also cringey, distractedly so, both the chemistry and narrative link is missing. Some catchy Christmas tunes though to temporarily perk you up.
The unemployed 30 year-old Hlynur not only still lives with his mother, but it is apparent that she is casually aware of his extensive porn-watching habit, not to mention she helps him out of the bath, and empties the water for him. Hlynur is very much an adult though, sexually charged, but unable to function proactively in the social discourse. A brash girl still pines for him, but he treats her with disdain. At the center of affairs seems to be Spanish woman Lola, his mother’s flamenco teacher, who moves in around Christmas and soon forms a romance, and tries for a baby, with the mother – not before sleeping with Hlynur. In the midst of a smart script, and a very effective low-budget aura, the three of them, in weird circumstances granted, still manage to demonstrate a family unit as well as some candid adult complications.
The worst aspect of the creepy The Children is its tagline – You brought them into this world, now they will take you out. Please. What we actually have here is a well-thought-out, steadily-paced chiller, slowly building a tension that in itself alters your heart-rate. The sounds of the “ill” children laughing, crying, whining as the bloody, fatal bedlam ensues is particularly menacing. Refreshing to see such a naturalistic setting where the group of children are the villains, still somehow vulnerable and unaware of their actions, suffering similar fates as any masked horror baddy might. I mean, children should not play with knives, scissors, broken glass, at the best of times – let this be a lesson to you all.
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Join us for even more jollies when we see the next 5 films for Christmas soon.
Follow the marathon on Twitter: #50FilmsChristmas
See the full list on Letterboxd: 50 Films for Christmas