Review: Red Christmas – When night falls, the terror begins

Red Christmas begins with news stories and imagery from abortion clinic protests. Next, we witness an explosion that rocks the clinic as an abortion is happening inside and the aborted baby is stolen. This sets up an interesting juxtaposition with the next scene, which will begin our story. The tree is up, presents are waiting – it’s Christmas Day as a family gathers to celebrate together. Horror icon Dee Wallace co-produced and stars as the matriarch, Diane, (Cujo, Critters, The Howling, The Hills Have Eyes, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial). Tension mounts as the family unwinds. Bickering and arguing quickly become center stage as we learn more about the family and their story.

Soon, their doorbell rings.  A seemingly innocent stranger draped in black robes and covered in bandages stands at their door. He’s invited in to warm up by the fire after struggling to speak through a coughing fit. As he’s brought inside, the stranger startles the family because of his unusual mannerisms and attire but they are polite to him and try to make conversation. After talking to him, they learn that Cletus, the stranger, doesn’t know what presents are so they quickly get one together for him. Things quickly turn south when Cletus struggles and bumbles to explain why he’s there, insists on reading a letter that he brought with him, and starts talking about abortion.  As Diane screams for him to get out, the family jumps into gear and begins dragging him through the house and then tossing him unceremoniously outside. They threaten him to never come back. Cletus is seen franticly running through some nearby woods, getting caught in branches, confused, and upset. Back in the house, the family continues on with their gathering – bickering and arguing included.

When night falls around the secluded house, the terror begins. Red Christmas has an interesting, original premise. The gore is over the top and bloody but does not take center stage in this movie. The tension burns slowly but it will catch you in its grasp as you watch this family that you’ve come to know become hunted mercilessly. The twist was not entirely unexpected but it will still reel you in as you watch those involved struggle to comprehend what’s happening. Dee Wallace was masterful as Diane. You can feel her heartache and how terrified she is for her family as the story unfolds. Written and Directed by Craig Anderson, Red Christmas really is a family drama at heart.

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