Mercy Christmas (2017)
Starring Steven Hubbell, Casey O’Keefe, Gwen Van Dam, Joseph Keane, Cole Gleason
Directed by Ryan Nelson
I’ve watched a ton of festive season horror films throughout my life, and I have to say that Mercy Christmas is without a doubt among the best the subgenre has to offer. It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen all year, if that’s worth anything.
Michael Briskett is a lonely and socially awkward office worker who’s great with numbers but terrible at making friends. So imagine his delight at being invited to spend what would otherwise have been an otherwise lonely Christmas with his pretty officer co-worker and her family. The Robillard’s turn out to be mostly traditional, hardworking Californians, aside from the fact that instead of turkey, they prefer to eat a different kind of meat at Christmas. But being on the menu is the least of Briskett’s worries, because it turns out that his asshole boss Andy (Cole Gleason) is not only a member of the murderous family, but also wants him to finish a lengthy work report before he becomes Christmas Dinner.
Brisket was played by relative newcomer Steven Hubbell. I learn from his IMDb entry that he worked in the camera and electrical departments on films such as The Avengers, Jobs, and Seven Psychopaths, although his acting credits are minimal. Which is a shame, really, because he’s fantastic here. He does such a good job of creating a socially awkward character who just wants to interact with fellow humans that you feel like you want more than anything that to do your good deed of the day and treat him to a coffee. Admit it, we all know at least one loner who we’d like to treat to a meal to show the that the world isn’t all that bad, something Hubbell embodied perfectly.
In addition to death and cannibalism, Mercy Christmas also offers a healthy dose of social commentary. The Robillard family are also devout churchgoing Christians who always remember to say their prayers, despite have no compunctions when it comes to murder and cannibalism. They don’t even appear to hear as one of their victims begs for mercy while they chop of his legs with a meat cleaver. A great way for the filmmakers to illustrate how today’s right-wing Christian conservatives have completely backwards views on morality.
Aside from the end credits, Mercy Christmas is only 76 minutes long. I would have preferred it to run a little longer to allow for more time to flesh things out, so to speak. But as it is, this really is one of the finest Christmas-based horror films out there. Look for it on the festival circuit later this year.