Cletus Revealed CU Profile - Red Christmas Photo by Douglas BurdorffFilm Review: Red Christmas

A dysfunctional family Christmas goes to hell in this formulaic but visually stunning Australian horror picture about the ties that bind and rend.

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It’s easy to argue Red Christmas‘ politics—argue, not resolve, which appears to be writer/director/co-producer Craig Anderson’s intention. In particular, Cletus’ resemblance to the sad, ill-used Elephant Man of Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 play and David Lynch’s 1980 film is surely no coincidence, and casting Gerard O’Dwyer—who has Down Syndrome and is well-known in Australia both as an actor and as a spokesman for people with intellectual disabilities—as Diane and Joe’s eldest child is both canny and genuinely effective.

Janis McGavin Bloody Stairs - Red Christmas Photo by Douglas BurgdorffDee Wallace with Gun in Red Light - Red Christmas Photo by Douglas Burgdorff

Wallace’s performance is genuinely memorable—in a genre where middle-aged women rarely get more than a few minutes’ screen time before being summarily dispatched, she not only stays the course but shows why it pays to invest in experience…though it’s worth noting that Wallace, the mom in E.T. and Cujo and one of the film’s producers, stepped up and invested herself.

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Red Christmas is one of the most beautifully lit and photographed horror films since Dario Argento’s Suspiria—the stylized pink and blue lighting (nicely justified by the holiday decor) is a dead giveaway to Argento’s influence—and it’s clear that veteran filmmaker Anderson’s stalk-and-slash picture is—pardon the pun—a cut above average.

Suspiria

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See the Film Journal International review of Red Christmas in it’s entirety HERE!