Movie Review: ‘Red Christmas’

Abortion! Do I have your attention? Does the word make you want to read this posting? The movie Red Christmas gambles that the topic is ripe for a great horror film; they were wrong. In the first few minutes, the movie plays several sound bites from both sides of the abortion debate, setting up the villain with a fairly unique origin story. It is cringe worthy right from the start and does not get much better along the way.

The story centers around a family reunion at Christmas time. The family is full of standard archetypes, including a perverted priest, a pregnant woman, a rebel, and a man with Down Syndrome. All are getting along fair enough, with typical family squabbling, and their day is going well until a stranger arrives on their doorstep. The man has bandages covering his face and Death’s black robe covering everything else, but for some inexplicable reason, they let him in. The man eventually starts reading a letter to “mother” and the matriarch soon realizes it’s about abortion, clearly hitting a nerve, and she throws the man out.

But the man is not gone for long and the family members soon start dropping one by one in ways that vary from gruesome to boring. As a spoiler-y example of the latter, at one point, a victim literally just stands in their hiding spot while the stranger slowly stabs them. Even horror fans will probably find some of these deaths underwhelming.

There is an interesting parallel of sorts if you compare the survivor(s) with who (usually) doesn’t survive an abortion; can’t say too much here without spoiling the movie. The film tries to raise some thought-provoking issues on the topics of abortion, religion, and Down Syndrome, among others. The acting varies from scene to scene with fairly flat characters, except for maybe the matriarch, Diane (played by horror icon Dee Wallace; The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo). The film has an interesting twist on the unwanted child motive, but the idea needed more time to develop into its own life.

Red Christmas will open in Los Angeles August 25th for a weeklong run at the Laemmle Music Hall, and expand to screens in San Francisco, Denver, Dallas and more over the coming weeks.

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