A well told story that cleverly drops in hints throughout for what will take place. Some great gore and some down-right hilarious moments can’t save Secret Santa from being a frustrating watch.
Why? Because of the poor filming and lighting. For reasons that make little sense (except the budget possibly) the movie is filmed with handhelds. Resulting in a hell of a lot of shaky cams and even more cuts. One scene where a character has a short speech that lasts about 15 seconds has over 7 cuts alone. It’s infuriating.
Which is such a shame because it’s not a bad film overall.
Directed by Adam Marcus and co-written by Marcus and Debra Sullivan. It tells the story of a seriously dysfunctional family getting together on Christmas Eve. This family are a group of toxic individuals with most seeming to despise each other resulting in constant bickering and insults thrown around. We have recovering alcoholic April (A Leslie Kies) who has brought along her boyfriend, Ty (Michael Rady) to meet the family. She is seen as the good girl of the family, especially from her sister Penny’s (Ryan Leigh Seaton) point of view.
Both girls do great in their roles. With plenty of layers to their characters and Ryan Leigh Seaton being the standout! On the boys’ side of things, we have Drew Lynch’s likeable Kyle and Nathan Hendrick’s over the top portrayal of the sex-crazed Jackson. The latter also brought someone to party, this current ‘squeeze’ Jacqueline (Michelle Renee Allaire) who ticks the nudity box.
We have a few more characters but all of them are overseen by the cruel matriarch of the family, Shari played wonderfully by Debra Sullivan. She’s a horrible woman and her disappointment in her children can’t be hidden. Seriously, however bad you think your family is, they are angels compared to this lot.
They’re all really entertaining and most have great chemistry! Especially when the truth starts to come out. Honesty is the name of the game at this family dinner but not because everyone wants to clear the air. Instead they’re all been given the gift of spiked punch by someone unknown. Spiked with a drug that makes them all really honest but with the added side effect of murder.
As tensions heat up, things get out of hand really fast. The Christmas season will erupt in a fountain of blood. Seriously, Secret Santa doles out the violence and gore as if it is going out of business. It is visceral and extremely stomach-turning at times.
In fact, Secret Santa is not a film for the family. Thanks to some of the crudest dialogue (c**t is said A LOT), nastiest visuals (ever seen a man f**k a severed head?) and blackest humour going. It has no issue with bad taste and it’s all the better for it.
If we’d had just a little more effort put in with the camera work and the harsh lighting inside the house, we’d have had one of the finest Christmas horrors in a while. Instead, all we can really say is that if you like your Christmas horror to be brutal, funny in a twisted way and well-acted then Secret Santa will certainly hit the mark.
The Final Score - 6.5/10