Secret Santa (Frightfest Presents / Signature)

What does one write about Secret Santa? I mean, on paper at least, you’d assume it wouldn’t be too much of a struggle. A festive slasher, the likes of which start coming out of the woodwork this time of year, a family get-together gone gory. Pretty straight forward, you think. Wrong.

Gathered for Christmas, our family begin things with the usual dysfunctional arguments, passive aggressive digs at Christmas jumpers, and the one really “friendly” girlfriend in attendance. They end very differently once the yule punch is spiked with military grade sodium pentothal. But no, it’s not just the ugly truth that this family need to worry about spilling, as it turns out the drug is untested on humans, and has some very interesting thermonuclear rage related symptoms, along with a real kick in the skincare routine.

The film begins with a slow-mo family fight soundtracked by Christmas carols (cough exactly like Krampus cough) where a snow globe is used as a deadly assault weapon. Flash back to the beginning of evening, before everyone is maimed in Santa’s name.

Coming from the director of Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, there are as many gross laughs as you’d expect, and whilst they hit the mark just a little more than occasionally, they do tend to drop like absolute clangers elsewhere.

As funny murder mystery becomes homicidal home invasion, becomes rage addled bath salts levels of zombie covered in buckets of tomato soup, it’s a little hard to keep up with where exactly all this is going, let alone work out who might be responsible for the original poisoning.

All the individual actors give good turns, but as a collective, without spoiling it for you, the intertwined and obscure relationships become a little too ridiculous to support any sort of serious acting, and the whole thing kind of loses its way come the paranoid, boil popping finale.

I don’t want to be impolite, because I know this sort of movie has a place somewhere, with someone, but I suspect that someone is a 14 year old boy with a whoopee cushion and those fake ice cubes with plastic flies in them, and it’s just the wrong side of whacky for me. If you’re looking for something fun, silly, pumped full of blood, guts, piss, pus, and fart jokes – then this is just the thing for you to settle in with to wait for Santa. Personally, I prefer my horror with at least a few legitimate scares. Sophie Francois


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