December 1, 2018 Christmas Blood (Movie Review)
Set for release on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 through Artsploitation Films on DVD and several VOD platforms, the Scandinavian Christmas Blood stars Stig Henrik Hoff (The Thing 2011, The River series) and Sondre Krogtoft Larsen (Into The White 2012, Run For Love 2016) in the bloody story of a deranged killer terrorizing a town who have come to know Christmas as a time of unimaginable horror…
Directed by Norway’s Reinert Kiil (The Whore 2009, Inside the Whore 2012), and originally titled Juleblod, Christmas Blood is often the absolute last thing that an audience might expect. From its title, its premise, and the general context of the sub-genre it occupies, many will immediately assume that this is a film that is about to be an exercise in silly camp horror. Surprisingly, it is not. That is not to say that it is a film that disguises itself as something particularly profound or high-taste; there is still plenty of blood and scantily clad ladies in this Horror flick, but it does aim for a much weightier tone than many of its similar contemporaries.
Much of said tonal weight comes from the location. Simply put – the chilly foreign environments give the visuals a weight that just does not come from the 4000th Horror film that looks like either Vancouver, Atlanta or Los Angeles. There is a chilly tension to every scene, and one that has been put to good use by all manner of Scandinavian detective films and television shows recently.
In many ways, Christmas Blood is actually a mash-up of two genres: Horror and that very particular strain of detective film. Visually, it often borders on noir, and it makes for a unique viewing experience – there is a cool and reserved sensibility to the action you see on screen that contrasts greatly with the content you are watching.
Some audience members are sure to find this a little jarring, but generally this is less an example of tonal inconsistency and more an example of using the strengths of one genre to uplift another. The very specific color palette is the primary way that the production team achieve this, and the cinematographer deserves particular recognition for some excellent work on this front.
That reserved distance goes completely out of the window when it comes to special effects however, or more specifically when it comes to practical effects. The practical effects in this film are fantastic, and merge with that very particularly tone outlined before to create something that feels visceral and impactful. The blood in particular is much better done than a lot of Horror films accomplish: it is thick, but still recognizably fluid, and has a natural flow to it. These may be written off as small details, but they make a big difference, both on a moment-to-moment basis while watching and while looking back on the film afterwards.
The film does make some missteps however. Generally, the slower pace is welcome – the film takes time to build the tension within its sequences. However, that pace can become too slow and plodding when applied to the structure of the work as a whole rather than individual scenes. The film is not likely to actively bore you, but it certainly could have been better paced.
Broadly speaking though, this is a far cry from what many will expect. Rather than a hack-and-slash-a-thon, this is a much quieter Horror film with some real weight behind it. For all these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Christmas Blood 4 out of 5 stars.