Horror movie icon Dee Wallace (E.T., Cujo) plays Diane, the matriarch of a large family celebrating Christmas at their secluded Australian home. Her brood includes Jerry (Gerard Odwyer), an adult with Down syndrome; free-spirit artist Hope (Deelia Meriel); Suzy (Sarah Bishop), who arrives with her pastor husband; and the pregnant Ginny (Janis McGavin). While everyone else squabbles over petty differences, Diane just wants to make everyone happy. It’s not long before a bandaged stranger shows up at the door, is invited in, and almost immediately tossed out for speaking his mind. What was on his mind, you ask? Abortion and revenge. His anger at being cast out causes the stranger to lash out murderously. As the blood, guts, and body parts start flying, Diane tries her best to save the day.
We’ve all seen the murderous stranger angle played out before. However, Red Christmas opens with an abortion clinic bombing complete with an eerie voice over that mentions “anger on both sides.” The theme stays front and center throughout the film, as family secrets are revealed. Thankfully, none of the discussion ever gets preachy or overwrought.
Red Christmas has flaws, chief among them, an amazing lack of consistent tone. On the other hand, we are talking about a micro-budget slasher flick and not It’s a Wonderful Life, so that’s hardly surprising. Nonetheless, the film, has a solid cast that does a good job with the material. As you might expect, it’s Dee Wallace who really shines. You can tell she had a good time making this film, and she really gives her all to the character of Diane. The kill scenes are decent, and Anderson has used a lot of holiday colored filters on the camera–lots of red and blue tints–to get viewers in the spirit of the season.
While Red Christmas may not be a holiday horror classic, it has an interesting premise, and a good performance from horror legend Dee Wallace to warrant a look from fans of the genre.
Presented in the 2.25:1 aspect ratio, this movie was shot digitally and is extremely colorfully. As I mentioned earlier, Craig Anderson used a series of colored filters on his camera lense to give scenes a ‘holiday’ look. Unfortunately, when these filters are applied, some detail is lost, causing some softness. In other shots, detail is vivid. Wrinkles, makeup, and other facial features look excellent in close-ups. All the blood and guts looks vivid. Black levels are consistently deep. Skin tones look natural, and there are no print flaws to report.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is loud, but largely front heavy. Unfortunately, the surrounds never really feel fully engaged. The sound effects try to be immersive, but ultimately fall short. The bass offers some added heft, but it’s still rather timid. Ambient sounds are there, but won’t bowl you over. The rear speakers don’t produce much sound at all. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise. This track is purely pedestrian.
English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Craig Anderson: in this running, screen-specific commentary, Anderson discusses making the film, casting Dee Wallace, origin of the story, and more.
- Dee Wallace Speaks! (HD, 19:43) Dee Wallace sits down with Craig Anderson to discuss how she came to the project, changes she wanted made to the film, and more.
- Interview with Gerald O’Dwyer (HD, 9:57) Craig Anderson and members of the cast talk with the actor with Downs’ Syndrome about his experience working on the film.
- Blooper Reel (HD, 3:26)
- Deleted Scene (HD, :45)
- Craig Anderson Interview (HD, 1:40) Some of the actors and producer of the film ask Anderson some quick questions.
Movie title: Red Christmas (2017)
Director(s): Craig Anderson
Actor(s): Dee Wallace, David Collins, Geoff Morrell, Gerard O'Dwyer, Sarah Bishop, Janis McGavin,