Over the weekend I got the opportunity to go to a screening at Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con for a new film called Secret Santa. It’s a horror/comedy directed by Adam Marcus (Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday) and co-written by Marcus and Debra Sullivan (Texas Chainsaw 3D). It’s recently played at the Sitges 50th Anniversary Festival Fantastique and Houston Horrorthon. Next week it will be at the Portland Film Fest. But that’s not what you really want to know. I’ll put it simply:
Secret Santa is fucking brilliant.
It combines the irreverent humor with over-the-top gore to create something truly remarkable. The film starts off as with a series of comedic beats intermixed with the opening credits as we meet a very dysfunctional family on their way to celebrate Christmas Eve together. You have the overbearing mother (Debra Sullivan), the angry at the world sister (Ryan Leigh Seaton), the over-sexed step brother (Nathan Hedrick), the money grubbing aunt (Pat Destro), the racist uncle (Curtis Fortier), the philandering father (John Gilbert), the reserved brother (Drew Lynch) and the prefect child putting the whole thing together (A. Leslie Kies). Mix them all together with their assorted dates, catering staff and a dash of alcohol and you’ve got the set up for a hilarious comedy… and then Marcus adds in a horror twist and an over-the-top amount of violence and gore that pairs perfectly with the humor.
There are some really stand out performances here as well. Lynch brings an amazing amount of heart as possibly the only innocent in the room. Michelle Renee Allaire also stands out as the step-brothers date and far more than she appears. Hedrick is so despicable you have to love him. And Sullivan’s performance as the family matriarch makes you believe all these other horrible people could exist.
What might be the most impressive thing about the film is how well all the different elements blend together. I was constantly going from mouth agape from the violence and blood to laughing loudly a second later. The only thing I can think of even close to this type of comedic / horror balance is Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness. I thoroughly enjoyed this film from beginning to end… including the scene that run in the ending credits that answers any questions you might still have.
The humor is crass, the language is profaine, the violence is extreme, the gore is excessive and it all works to make a great holiday film.
Here is a link to the Red Band trailer for the film… and it is VERY NSFW… or most anywhere else.
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