This Shudder Original Horror Movie Is a Festive ‘Terminator’

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Christmas Bloody Christmas offers a refreshing take on the popular subgenre of killer Santas in holiday horror.
  • The mechanical Santa in the film is a cold and ruthless killer, reminiscent of iconic slasher villains like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees but with a modernized twist on The Terminator.
  • The film presents a modern and capable final girl character who challenges the traditional innocent persona associated with the trope.


If you have ever wondered what would happen if the beloved Santa Claus were a killer robot, you’re in for a festive treat! The 2022 Shudder original Christmas Bloody Christmas seeks to answer that question. Set over one Christmas Eve, the Joe Begos-directed feature follows Tori (Riley Dandy) as she settles for a lonesome evening of drinking and hooking up with a stranger. Chaos soon erupts as her neighbors are slaughtered by an android Santa carrying a bright red axe. Killer Santas seem to be all the rage, with Stranger Things star David Harbour recently taking on the role with Violent Night, but while Christmas Bloody Christmas may not become a Christmas classic in years to come, it is certainly a refreshing take on this growing subgenre of holiday horror. Leading from the growing fear surrounding technology that was heightened with The Terminator, Christmas Bloody Christmas creates a seemingly unbeatable antagonist with no consciousness. This allows for Robo-Santa to become a ruthless killer, with the movie capitalizing on gory and gruesome kills. With less than a 90-minute runtime, it’s a feature to add to any Christmas horror watch list.

Christmas Bloody Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and Tori just wants to get drunk and party, but when a robotic Santa Claus at a nearby toy store goes haywire and begins a rampant killing spree through her small town, she’s forced into a battle for survival.

Release Date
December 9, 2022

Director
Joe Begos

Cast
Riley Dandy , Abraham Benrubi , Jeff Daniel Phillips

Runtime
90 minutes

Genres
Horror , Christmas , Sci-Fi

Tagline
You better not cry.

Production Company
Channel 83 Films

Distributor(s)
Shudder


What Is ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ about?

Christmas Bloody Christmas follows Record Store owner Tori (Riley Dandy), who is getting ready for an uneventful Christmas Eve consisting of alcohol and a man she met on Tinder but is convinced to join her friend Robbie (Sam Delich) at the bar. Through vintage Christmas advertisements seen before the movie runs, we learn of a defective robot Santa that has been recalled, but one remains at their local toy store. After leaving, Tori and Robbie engage in mundane conversations, including discussing the best Christmas songs and quizzing each other on their favorite horror movies (Tori is a Blair Witch: Book of Shadows defender). This mindless chatter goes on for nearly a quarter of the runtime, which could be seen as meaningless filler but allows Christmas Bloody Christmas to feel as though it is taking place in real-time. There is an underlying sense of dread from the moment we see the potentially dangerous robot Santa that grows exponentially as the threat increases. The lack of clunky time jumps means, as an audience, you play a waiting game, watching as this android disposes of everyone in its path as it stalks our protagonist.

The climax of this, as Tori realizes the reality of the situation, is a drastic change of pace. The steady, carefree pacing immediately shifts and everything spirals out of control at a rapid rate. The tonal contrast aids in highlighting the helplessness and extremity of the situation. In the same way that Fresh so successfully presented itself as a potential romance movie before flipping halfway through, Christmas Bloody Christmas feels like a less glamourized version of this.

‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ Killer Santa Is a Mix of The Terminator and Slasher Icons

Deadly Santas have been a trope in the horror genre for decades, from the Santa-suited killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night to David Harbour’s vigilante Santa in Violent Night. The evil Santa caricature in Christmas Bloody Christmas stands apart from the others and aligns with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. He is purely mechanical, from his green laser eyes to his robotic movements, there is no humanity to this killer. The ruthlessness of both killers is evident in the way they don’t hesitate to kill anyone and anything that stands in their way, with parallel scenes depicting them disposing of an entire police precinct without much resistance.

However, what truly made The Terminator so terrifying was the fact he seemed impossible to defeat, and it seemed every time he was knocked down he simply rebooted, sat up, and carried on. Even when his human shell was destroyed, his robotic interior was even stronger and more sinister. This invincibility is replicated in Christmas Bloody Christmas, and considering the usual jovial nature associated with Santa Claus, this evil android is such a cold contrast. It takes the fear associated with The Terminator and applies it to the innocence of the festive season. Our killer Santa has many more similarities to slasher juggernauts such as Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees; his stature, his tendency to constantly stalk our final girl, and his total dominance. He appears from nowhere and kills with no sense of rhyme or reason. Christmas Bloody Christmas borrows a lot of ideas from classic slashers, and this is most obvious in its killer.

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Aside from his physical appearance, there could not be a bigger difference between the robot Santa and the real deal. Christmas Bloody Christmas forces you to take childhood adoration of Santa Claus and throw it out the window. He cannot be reasoned with and he has no remorse. At one point, following the death of his entire family at the hands of the android, a kid asks Santa where his mom is, and the movie does what other horror movies are sometimes scared to do; it kills the kid. This movie could easily veer toward poor taste, but it is very clear everyone is aware of the absurdity. If it teetered on the line of seriousness, Christmas Bloody Christmas would likely get lost in the sea of 2023 horror. However, the insanity of the whole movie allows it to become a compulsive festive treat and its robot Santa stands up against the other killer Santas in cinema.

‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ Gives Us the Perfect 21st Century Final Girl

Singlar in its approach, Christmas Bloody Christmas doesn’t overcomplicate itself, we are not given the space to get overly attached to anyone other than a handful of characters. Most of those we meet are disposed of almost instantly, and the viciousness with which this happens is a major reason for the success of the movie. However, the one character we do spend a lot of time with is our obvious final girl, Tori. Dandy perfectly plays a modern final girl, moving away from the girl next door, an innocent persona associated with the trope when it was first conceptualized. Instead, Tori echoes Grace (Samara Weaving) from Ready or Not and Maxine (Mia Goth) in X. She is capable, sexually liberated, and astute. Rather than being sheltered from the world, she tackles it head-on and her combat with robot Santa doesn’t feel helpless. The fact we are seeing how the final girl trope is being molded to evolve with societal attitudes, even in smaller horror movies, highlights how the horror genre grows with time.

Christmas Bloody Christmas will likely not be revered as a classic festive movie. However, it is unlikely that was the intent of the filmmakers. Instead, it basks in its absurdity and allows itself to push every boundary. It’s steady in its build-up, but that allows for the growth in the momentum that climaxes in a whole hour of gruesome and relentless kills. It borrows aspects of The Terminator and gives us a fresh take on the killer android subgenre. Perfect for any festive horror movie night, Christmas Bloody Christmas is certainly worthy of a spot among other holiday horrors.

Christmas Bloody Christmas is available to stream on Shudder in the U.S.

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