No, this is not some elaborate troll-job meant to trick Dread Central readers into watching basic cable garbage. I mean, Santa Jaws is “junk” by refined cinematic standards (see: snobbish) – but one person’s trash is another’s buried treasure. SYFY Originals often garner bad raps for good reason – slashed rate Asylum filmmaking – but their 2018 aquatic Christmas horror comedy fights against a strong current of title-gimmick-only filmmaking. Misty Talley captains a midnight cruise decked in holiday decor and zanily committed to brand in a way that’s full-steam Drinking With The Dread. Chart a course for punny groans, CGI Santa sharks, and eggnog intoxication!
Jake Kiernan’s screenplay plunges headfirst into fantastical core competencies never level-headed or logical. In the surrealist world of Santa Jaws, comic book nerd Cody (Reid Miller) receives a magical writing implement from his grandfather that brings to life whatever it draws. In Cody’s case, it’s his Christmas themed Great White comic book villain “Santa Jaws.” Much to the disbelief of family, friends, and errant boaters, the ho-ho-horrific creature terrorizes townsfolk in reality. Most unfortunate for Cody’s family and their waterfront restaurant business, of course.
Note: Talley’s submersion isn’t just about a hungry shark ruining December celebrations. Santa Jaws herself swims dressed to the nines with yuletide accents. A Santa Cap atop Santa Jaws’ dorsal fin periscopes our first glance. Underneath the water lurks Santa Jaws’ Rudolph-glow eyes, red-and-green teeth, candy cane Narwhal horn, and for good measure, multicolored Christmas lights wrap her torpedo body. Even better is how Santa Jaws preys upon Christmas-related objects or festive norms such as Grandpa’s “famous” nog. Once you hear those jingle bells a janglin’ it’s too late – you’re a snack for Santa Jaws!
Listen. I’m not suggesting Santa Jaws is anything more than a cheesy after-hours snack dusted with seasonal flavors. Within minutes were inundated by Christmas song titles twisted into badass Santa threats like a hammerhead to the skull. Humor panders, Cody’s romantic fumbles around new-girl crush Jena (Courtney Lauren Cummings) are slapstick inept, and constant nerd bashing is everything you’d expect from a weeknight television watch. That’s why beer exists! Characters are all exaggerated stereotypes who enthusiastically play along with Santa Jaws’ schtick via overdramatic poise or implausible calmness. It works, dammit! That ain’t even the booze talkin’!
Sure. Fine. Call it “so bad it’s good.” Mock animated Santa Jaws models that skimp on practica gore because we’re still dissecting made-for-SYFY budgets. Santa Jaws isn’t 47 Meters Down or Deep Blue Sea or Shark Night 3D. That doesn’t mean there’s no art to such a craft or room for energy to compensate technical shortcomings. Pound for pound, Talley’s trophy catch hangs alongside other personal favorite Christmas horror group watches like Santa’s Slay or Slay Belles. A hook, line, and sinker B-grade fin flick that bites back at holiday cheer with gnashing teeth – just how I like em.
Highlight moments include but are not limited to:
- We get it gramps; you make good ‘nog.
- The unanswered mystery of Cody’s pen.
- Comic book guy continues to endanger children while he mans shop.
- Santa Jaws’ design.
- The “dock defense scene” where children essentially toss Nerf harpoons at a floating target.
- Cody’s crazed rants out-loud to himself.
- Opening live-action Santa Jaws sequence puns.
- Sappy family arc thick like maple syrup.
- Christmas devotion.
Got your scuba gear ready and gingerbread traps set? Time to dive into this month’s Drinking With The Dread rules for Santa Jaws!
- Drink for every Christmas themed pun or shark pun (twice if it’s both!).
- Drink every time the Santa Hat dorsal fin surfaces (or is drawn).
- Drink whenever the comic store party is mentioned.
- Drink whenever someone says “Santa Jaws.”
- Drink TWICE whenever mom or dad gets mad at Cody.
- Drink TWICE whenever Cody talks to himself.
- TAKE A SHOT when Santa Jaws bites into the turkey bomb with explosive results.
There exists an alternate reality where Santa Jaws exploded into pop-culture’s guilty pleasure instead of Sharknado, and that’s where I’d transport myself given alien technology. Imagination bursts like a kindergartener with free reign over Crayola’s 120-color box, dripping wet in shark-attack-swagger confidence (the little sea monster that could). You better believe I’ll be forcing my friends to chug cold ones and watch Santa Jaws with me every future December, and you know what? Early assessments prove that I’m not alone in my excitement. Just ask the handful of amigos I’ve already converted to the church of Santa Jaws.