02nd Nov2020

‘The Nights Before Christmas’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Simon Phillips, Kate Schroder, Sayla de Goede, Michael Coughlan, Samantha De Benedet, Keegan Chambers, Ken Bressers, Anne-Carolyne Binette, Frederik Storm, Michael Swatton, Meredith Heinrich, Jennifer Willis | Written by Simon Phillips, Paul Tanter | Directed by Paul Tanter

I reviewed Once Upon Time At Christmas in 2018 and although it was a decent enough low budget slasher movie, it’s not a movie I was expecting a sequel to appear from. Yet here we are two years later with The Nights Before Christmas.

The synopsis in very simple terms, is basically the same as the first film. Santa Claus (well a guy dressed as him) goes on a killing spree, accompanied by Mrs Claus and being chased by the F.B.I. Being a slasher means that a lot of the enjoyment from this for many will be how entertaining the death scenes are. And in that regard, The Nights Before Christmas does pretty well for itself. There’s plenty of blood and gore and quite a bit of inventiveness too. From the extremely violent use of an axe (the kill in the office is a highlight) to the ridiculousness and extremely painful looking attack in a men’s urinal, there’s plenty of them and they’re an improvement from the first movie.

That said, there’s no tension and nothing that special about the deaths. They just happen and that’s that. And rather than go for a musical score that could possibly create some tension and become a big part of the movie, the director chooses to use ‘horror’ versions of traditional Christmas music. And while I always enjoy the use of festive music, it feels like it just plays in the background here, not adding a whole lot to the table.

Performances aren’t anything to write home about. This feels much like a daytime made for TV movie but with added gore and this especially the case with the performances. Most of them do the job fine and nothing more. Once again Sayla de Goede does a pretty average Harley Quinn rip-off as Mrs Claus, which generally just feels very forced. Simon Phillips is an improvement as Santa Claus though. He seemed more of a Santa Claus this time round, with some of his lines using Christmas puns or very Santa-centric language. He’s continuously talking about characters being naughty and nice and he’s also pretty horrible and extremely violent. This time round he’s the highlight of the movie.

As far as a Christmas movie goes – which is what I want even with festive horror – then this ticks a lot of boxes. We get lots of Christmas trees, lights and decorations, there’s the odd Christmas-themed death and also plenty of snow. As well as the aforementioned music, a killer Santa and Mrs Claus all dressed in red and white and much of the movie set on Christmas Eve, this is very much a Christmas movie. There’ll be no Die Hard arguments here.

Like the first film, fans of Christmas horror and slashers can sit back with their mulled wine, box of chocolates and Santa hat on, while getting plenty of joy from The Nights Before Christmas.

*** 3/5

The Nights Before Christmas is out on DVD now from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.


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