Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Ho, Ho, Ho: Christmas Blood

You don’t get squat for being on Santa’s “nice” list in Norway, but don’t complain. Those on the “naughty” list get hacked to bits by an axe murderer. A maniac known for killing people publicly accused of committing crimes has escaped from an unforgivably negligent insane asylum, just in time to get back to his old Christmas Eve tricks in Reinert Kiil’s Christmas Blood (trailer here), which releases today on DVD and VOD.

Don’t blame Thomas Rasch. He emptied a clip into the costumed killer, at point-bank range, but the psycho-slasher didn’t die. They never do. The traumatized cop resigned from the force, but he will return to help straight-laced Terje Hansen track down his bogeyman nemesis.

It turns out the killer is appropriately headed towards the home of Julia’s late mother in the far north, a quiet, frosty land that is close enough to the North Pole for just about anyone. Julia and her mother have had a hard time of life. Soon after her cancer diagnosis, the older woman accidentally killed another motorist in an auto accident. After years of bearing the guilt, she finally committed suicide, but Santa didn’t hear about it in the nuthouse. Several of Julia’s trampier college friends have come to be with her during the holiday, providing the killer with a classic cast of slasher victims.

Comparisons with the classic Halloween will be inevitable for Christmas Blood—and in some ways they are deserved. Believe it or not, the film really does have a similar look and atmosphere. Clearly, cinematographer Benjamin Mosli did his best studying and channeling Dean Cundey’s work on John Carpenter’s iconic horror films. Stylistically, they are eerily similar, but Kiil just follows in the tradition, rather than building on it. In fact, it all ends on a disappointingly small-scale, underwhelming note.

Frankly, the women waiting around for Kris Kringle to kill them are problematically cliched and mostly boring. However, Sondre Krogtoft Larsen and Stig Henrik Hoff are better than average as the mismatched coppers. The frosty Finnmark locales and the severe Scandinavian ambiance also nicely contribute to feelings of isolation and dread.

Kiil over-achieves when it comes to setting the scene and establishing the vibe, but he cannot close the deal. Still, he hits enough nostalgic buttons to produce a Pavlovian response in many fans. Okay for Hallmark viewers in the mood for a little Christmas cheer (but not nearly as heartwarming as Anna and the Apocalypse), Christmas Blood releases today (12/4) on DVD and VOD, from Artsploitation.