Good Christmas Horror films have always been few and far between, from the slow-witted Jack Frost to the downright bizarre Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2. However, never have I been met with such pure displeasure as that which was inflicted on me by the utter monstrosity that is Christmas Evil. This film does everything wrong and yet still finds itself attached to copious lists of Christmas Horror film recommendations. Although I acknowledge the division amongst the horror community, my personal opinion is that Christmas Evil is largely without merit, and hope through this article to extend an act of kindness in dissuading you from sitting through this tedious train-wreck of a slasher. Should you fail to follow my advice, you may proceed with caution, however, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Christmas Evil follows Harry Stadling, a mentally ill toy factory worker who is left traumatized from childhood, after witnessing his father dressed up as Santa Claus pleasuring his mother. For whatever reason, as a result, Harry becomes obsessed with Christmas to the extent at which he begins to believe he is the real Santa Claus. His passion for Christmas, however, is not shared by his co-workers who belittle and bully him to the point at which he decides to exact his revenge through a series of murders. As you can see, it’s an extremely simple plot following the oversaturated homicidal Santa craze of the 1980s, but yet still it fails to deliver on even the simplest of storylines.
This is in part, due to the films awful pacing which completely disconnects the audience from the story at bay. Said pacing is defined by a plethora of dull, drawn-out scenes, which serve little purpose in progressing the story or developing Harry’s character. Defenders of this film accredit the slow pacing to a well-crafted construction of Harry’s motivations; however, this defence falls short when considering the film dedicates two and half minutes to a scene in which Harry attempts to negotiate a chimney. Such unnecessary filler subjects us to fifty-one minutes before receiving our first kill and although this gave me a glimmer of hope for things to come; this quickly shattered upon the realisation that this was one of just two kill sequences in the entire movie. A truly pitiful numbering considering Christmas Evil was marketed as a slasher flick.
Ultimately the film’s pacing really began to get on my nerves, but not nearly as much as the constant bombardment of pointless piercing sound effects, which continued right throughout the picture, with a screeching keyboard present in every scene meriting even the slightest element of dread. These strange attempts at ramping up the atmosphere serve more in the way of waking up the drifting viewer than leaving them on the edge of their seat and just add further depth to the growing list of things wrong with Christmas Evil. Additional annoyance comes from our cringeworthy lead Harry, who manages to the best of his ability in reminding us we are watching a Christmas film by crying out “Merry Christmas” at every possible waking moment. Considering the film’s intention is for us to side with Harry, it’s perhaps in poor taste that director Lewis Jackson would write in scenes of him spying on the local children while writing them into his naughty and nice list. This creepy concept leads the film’s purpose astray and left me rooting for no one, which is always a bad sign in a slasher.
Leading on from Christmas Evil’s misplaced writing, we also have the problem of misplaced tone. The film attempts to convey itself as dark and serious but fails to recognise the absurdity of its plot, leading to an awkward blend of a film not sinister enough to accomplish its immediate goal and too solemn to warrant a comedic spark. This awkward blend worsens as we approach the climax of the film, in what has to be the most nonsensical ending in horror history, as Harry flees an angry mob only to drive off a bridge, before taking flight through the sky and off into the distance. Does this mean Harry is Santa after all? Is he dead and is this simply a representation of his brain’s final activity? To be honest, I don’t really care, this film sucked the absolute life out of me and I’m glad it’s over. But to finish, I’ll leave you with one final thought, IMDb claims that “Director Lewis Jackson came up with the basic idea for this film after smoking reefer one night during the 1970s and seeing a vision of Santa Claus holding a knife” I’ll let you do with that what you may.