Axe-wielding murderous Santas aren’t anything new, but they’re still one of my all-time favorite horror tropes. From Santa’s Slay to Silent Night, we’ve seen all sorts of wacky yuletide carnage taking place on a traditionally cheerful occasion. Norwegian filmmaker Reinert Kiil is the latest to try his luck at a serial-killing Saint Nick with Christmas Blood, a movie that aims to bring the holiday rampage a bit closer to home.
Christmas Blood stars an ensemble of young friends determined to make the most of their holiday trip to an isolated winter wonderland after a recent tragedy. Featuring the talents of Ida Malene Smith Bakke, Pernille Baggeranas, Helene Eidsvåg and several others, these friends are soon confronted with an axe-murdering lunatic dressed as Santa Clause, who`s just escaped custody and plans on completing a 13-year-long holiday murder-spree. However, a pair of investigators are hot on Santa`s trail, hoping to catch this seemingly unkillable maniac before he paints this white Christmas red.
Due to the sheer quantity of killer Santa movies before it, the cookie-cutter characters and tropes present in Christmas Blood would have been just as tired in the 80s as they are now. Nothing about the film’s story manages to stand out, but every minor detail is so well-executed here that it’s hard to complain as the movie does its best to have fun with these age-old ingredients.
Kiil has a great sense of style, and the movie boasts a nightmarishly atmospheric take on winter in Norway. There’s a slight tonal resemblance to Cold Prey, another Norwegian slasher from 2006, as both films attempt to balance chilling atmosphere and character moments with dark humor and brutal kills as the movie attempts to keep you entertained even when no one is dying.
That being said, the kills are still a lot of fun, if oftentimes implausible. There’s a certain air of repetition to some of these scenes, but there are only so many ways you can dismember someone with an axe, so I can’t quite blame the filmmakers for that. These gory moments are also improved by the film’s attempts at connecting the viewer to these characters, as you’ll probably be left torn between wanting to enjoy the bloody practical effects and rooting for the victims to escape unharmed.
The characters are surprisingly likable despite their relative unoriginality, though a lot of this can be attributed to the cast’s natural charm instead of the script. The Michael-Myers-inspired killer is also a legitimately threatening figure in spite of the Santa outfit, with a few interesting hints at a larger backstory and an intimidating presence. Sadly, he isn’t developed as much as I would have liked, though I can still appreciate the mystery surrounding such a terrifying figure.
Overall, Christmas Blood is peppered with creative details and moments, but it’s a shame that the general setup isn’t all that original. This is still a fun and thrilling slasher flick with a cool villain and a creepy winter vibe, but it’s not exactly Krampus, and the film probably won’t be joining the ranks of our favorite Christmas horror classics anytime soon.
Christmas Blood will be available on Home Video and VOD on December 11th.