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"Christmas Bloody Christmas" Review

For some reason the missus didn't want to watch any of the usual Christmas movie fare this year, but suggested the Shudder Original Christmas Bloody Christmas which was described as "robot Santa goes on killing spree on Christmas Eve." Not very reasony for the seasony, but OK.

Riley Dandy (Netflix's That's Amor, and reminds me of Gillian Jacobs) stars as Tori, the owner of an independent record store in a small California town. It's Christmas Eve and she's planning on a Tindr hookup, but is talked out of it by her employee Robbie (Sam Delich), who's attracted to her. He convinces her to go to the bar with him instead and on the way they stop at the toy store where their friends Jay (Jonah Ray) and Lahna (Dora Madison) work. 

Also at the toy store is one of the robot Santas (Abraham Benrubi, ER) which an opening news report informs us are being recalled because there have been reports that they're reverting to their original firmware programming. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that these Santas were repurposed military combat droids - basically Terminators in red suits and white beards. What could go wrong? A: Everything, which is why we have this movie.

 While the overall production feels low budget from the occasionally questionable casting to the budget special makeup effects to the luridly lit cinematography which I mistook for cheap digital freaking out over all the red, green, and blue neon lights (it's actually film!), there's one aspect which elevated this basic story above your general slasher flick ilk: the writing. (No! Yes!)

 The banter between the characters, especially Tori and Robbie and their friends then later with a bartender, is elevated in a movie chatter style, but doesn't get into the "everyone talks like Kevin Smith and is an expert on comic books" territory. The characters are distinct and we get to know them beyond mere two-dimensional cartoon archetypes awaiting their inevitable slaughter so when they start getting whacked, he feel their loss.

The ending Final Girl vs. RoboSanta battle drags on a bit and the final shot is poorly considered and leaves the viewer on an unsatisfying note, but overall Christmas Bloody Christmas is a pleasantly surprising option for those unable to decide whether they want to watch a horror movie OR a Christmas movie. Why not both?

Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable/streaming. (It's on Shudder.)

This trailer pretty much gives away the whole movie, so skip it if you plan on watching the movie proper.


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