I don't think I've yet to watch an Australian film (horror or otherwise) that wasn't - at least on some level - positively mental. Granted, while my own proclivities guarantee that I'm steered in a particularly dark direction, as a head-in-the-clouds horror fan, its simply much more fun to think that the makeup of these films is a direct reflection of the awesome derangement inherent to Aussie artists. Maybe it's the heat! Regardless, whether or not my supposition is founded in reality or fantasy, the point is, it's a trend that's certainly tickled my darker sensibilities, and as a result, has assuredly locked me in as a lifelong fan of this type of cinema, ozploitation especially. It also seems to be the case that the more I watch, the stronger my appetite for these films gets.
In Red Christmas, not only do we get our fill of shock-violence, fierce brutality, and off-color humor, but also the tackling of a touchy hot-button topic in abortion. The best part about that last point, is that the film takes no firm stance on it one way or the other. We have here a cast of characters representing different points of views which land them on different sides of the subject, and so it really is left to the viewer to choose which side they relate with, sympathize with; it's a flexibility that I can both appreciate, and enjoy. Even still, that hardly makes Red Christmas a comfortable watch, it wouldn't otherwise be the kind of Australian horror film I'd bother with. There's really no way to find comfort in a film about a vengeful - attempted - aborted fetus who's lust for bloodshed can only be matched by his longing for acceptance:
When a mysterious, deformed young man named Cletus appears at their door, things soon go from petty insults to bloody, imaginatively orchestrated violence as Wallace attempts to protect her family from the vengeful intruder. The film deliriously infuses comedy, dark family secrets with outlandish gore and adds the always controversial subject of abortion in its blood-stained mix.
See? A squirm-in-your-seat good time! And considering the speed at which shit hits the fan, you'll only have a small moment to prepare yourself for it all, by which point you'll be thrust head first into a colorful (yes, colorful) nightmare made up of some of the most excruciatingly tense scenarios found in any horror film this year. Additionally, with the characters being so well written (and so well performed by the cast), you find that each encounter with the deformed intruder becomes that much more distressful. Probably none more so than those involving Dee Wallace's character "Diane", a tough-as-nails mother doing everything in her power to protect both her family and its deepest secrets. And while the rest of the cast are a joy to watch, each bringing uniquely endearing qualities to their roles (Gerard Odwyer in particular, demonstrating great comedic timing), Wallace unsurprisingly commands our attention above anyone else. That said, even taking into account her powerful on-screen presence, the screenplay is balanced well enough that everyone, including the deformed stalker, has a chance to shine.
And speaking of shine, I noted earlier that Red Christmas is, "a colorful nightmare". This mainly in reference to the film's visual style, prevalent especially in the later half, the distinctive saturation in primary colors that make up the film's lighting aesthetic, really allows the horror occurring inside the house to hit with memorably greater impact. Watching character mutilations set against the joyful color schemes of Christmas is a juxtaposition that's incredibly unsettling; and while it can feel a bit overdone at times, it's ultimately a decision that works in the film's favor.
So yeah, that's pretty much Red Christmas for you. An early holiday horror treat who's narrative frame of terror is predicated on the various components which make up a very controversial topic. Needless to say, if you're the sensitive type, and you prefer your horror films to play it safe (read: boring) - STAY AWAY. Thick-skinned gore hounds however, couldn't ask for a better gift than this! Craig Anderson's mean-spirited yuletide splatterfest is just the film for you (and me). Thank you Craig Anderson, for allowing me to continue feeding an unhealthy obsession in the most glutinous way possible, a horror film feast for my depraved little mind.