The high-concept pitch for this is “Santa rescues a rich family from the clutches of armed criminals from the cut-and-weld version of Die Hard & Die Hard 2”. And if the recipient’s instant reaction wasn’t “KA-CHING£$!” they need to be fired. David Harbour is Santa McClane, and that covers half the bill by itself.
Oh, and the first 5 minutes is Santa in a Pub in what some producer in California was convinced Bristol looks like; pissed out of his head and bemoaning about the youth of today. Then he throws up on the publican, from his reindeer-drawn flying sled. It’s amazing, you see the full impact and her facial reaction.
Meanwhile… Bloke (Alex Hassell), Wife (Alexis Louder), and Child (Leah Brady) are off to see Nasty Senior Relative (Beverly D’Angelo). They have a gigantic house with a lot of staff in it, working hard on Christmas Eve, Then some of the caterers rise up to redistribute with extreme prejudice, and it’s hard to outright call them the bad guys (except for all the murders of their innocent co-workers) when you also support the recent strike actions. John Leguizamo is the main goon and you’ll remember his name because it’s “Scrooge”; the kind of predestination tomfoolery only he could ever pull off with so much style.
The family gets taken hostage, the kid talks to Santa, Santa comes to save the day. There’s blood everywhere. Oh my god, just so much blood. The Child is going to be in therapy for decades, and possibly in jail for a stretch as well if the family doesn’t buy off the local police. But, more immediately: violence. An unrelenting stream of Christmas-themed fights to the death, with Santa taking far more of a hammering than you’d expect his cheerful demeanor be able to handle. And character development, all around. Even a durable and workable mythos, Somehow, amongst all the… I watched a man get power shanked with a freshly sucked candy cane… so… much… blood…
Thankfully the team behind it manages to make this high-production value b-movie absolutely self-aware and loving it. There are blatant nods to the other works it’s cheerfully borrowing things from, the kind of performances from people seriously dedicated to making things fun, and enough twists, turns, and upbeat mainstream Christmas movie tropes in play to keep things going. It’s a laugh-a-minute, and a wince-a-minute, and a “feel warm inside”-very-couple-of-minutes.
There are no notes to be made; the only downside is if you don’t like this kind of concept. This is an exploitation B-Movie made with a £20 million budget, and the money is on display in all areas. even its 112 minutes running time is well-paced and has enough story to fill it. And just so, so much more amusingly bloody gore than you’d expect. Treasure, with multiple rounds of applause given by the audience during the cinema viewing.