Deadly Little Christmas (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Felissa Rose, Monique La Barr, Leah Grimsson, Samuel Nathan Hoffmire, Anthony Campanello
Directed by Novin Shakiba
Here we are in the middle of October just days away from Halloween. What better time than now to release a Christmas-themed slasher movie? Why not? Halloween is a time for horror films, and some stores have already put out their Christmas items for sale; now is a perfectly acceptable time for Deadly Little Christmas.
Producer David Sterling has built himself a nice little cottage industry cranking out micro-budget genre flicks that often look to have the production values of a high-end public access program. From my limited experience with some of his past features, they can be good for a few laughs or just plain ol’ awful or a little of the former and a whole lot of the latter. Deadly Little Christmas falls into that third category. How can you not laugh when you’re hit with gob-smacking dialogue exchanges like this?
“Mom would kill us if she knew what we were doing. She’s been very adamant about trying to shelter us.”
“Shelter smelter. We’re not kids anymore. I’ve done drugs, had sex – I’m going off to college. You’re directing a fucking play for god’s sake! I think we can handle this.”
Yes. Because nothing predicates the emotional maturity needed when learning the awful truth about a horrible family secret from the past quite like directing a three-person community center Nativity play.
There is a modicum of entertainment to be found here, and every last bit of it is unintentional. Bad acting mixed with howlingly bad dialogue; watching guys get stabbed and spastically twitch for 15 seconds before finally falling dead; I couldn’t help but chuckle at times.
But there is also an overabundance of sloppiness and dead weight, poorly staged scenes that either go nowhere or take forever to go anywhere, and mounds upon mounds of exposition where characters volunteer information in the most forced manner possible. A drawn-out flashback midway recapping events we already know from having watched the opening sequence boasts a voiceover that sounds like the actress was nervously reading from cue cards she’d never looked at in advance.
Deadly Little Christmas opens on Christmas Day in what looks to be an idyllic household as Dad enters dressed as Santa to give presents to his three little kids. Then, as mom and the kids play around the tree, dad slips into the bedroom with the sexy Swedish housekeeper for some pretty brazen adultery. Judging by how the next scene is shot, it would appear the cinematographer enters the bedroom and stabs both of them to death. Then, in a bit of mimicry, the film cuts to young son Devin walking out the front door with a dead stare and a bloody knife in his hand looking very much like young Michael Myers did at the opening of Halloween (the original Carpenter version).
Flash forward 15 Christmases later. Mom (Felissa Rose of Sleepaway Camp) has gone out of her way to keep her now grown sisters Taylor and Noel in the dark about what their brother did when they were too little to fully understand. Devin, now played by an actor that looks like Chris Pine’s brother made up to look like evil emo Peter Parker from Spider-Man 3, has been locked away in a sanitarium, a semi-catatonic mute in a black hoodie that makes comically shifty eyes.
Devin’s breakout is priceless. The actor starts violently spazzing out while sitting in a chair, falling out of it and then trying to get back into it to spaz some more. He fights an orderly trying to sedate him with a chloroform cloth, a fight that looks like two men struggling over who is going to wipe the other’s nose with a big Kleenex.
Another dead orderly is found in the asylum. A security guard will stick his finger in the bloody wound and declare that “This looks like a fresh kill.”
Mom tells an asylum administrator, “You better pray he’s still in this building because horror awaits us all if he’s not.”
No, actually. Nothing about this killer wearing what appeared to me to be some kind of papier-mâché African tribal mask repainted to look like a demonic pink ornament or the clumsy stabbings he commits falls into the horror category.
There is a major twist to the finale that I did not see coming at all. Nobody could see this twist coming given that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If you showed this twist to M. Night Shyamalan, he would probably do a spit-take and then shoot out his television set Elvis-style.
Ah, who am I kidding? Anyone watching will have done a spit-take by the time Felissa Rose screams at the top of her lungs, “I SHOULD HAVE ABORTED YOU WHEN I FOUND OUT YOU WERE A BOY!!!”
Much of Deadly Little Christmas is nothing more than a half-assed rehash of Halloween but set at Christmas with two sisters instead of one, no Dr. Loomis, no babysitting, and made for roughly the equivalent of the catering budget on your typical Asylum production.
A psychopath seating the dead bodies he has accumulated at the table of The Last Supper could have been an effective image if not for the cheap green Styrofoam plates Jesus and his disciples were eating from, killing the ambiance of the moment. Not to mention the annoying little fact that The Last Supper is associated with Easter, not Christmas.
1 1/2 out of 5
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