Twas the night before Christmas and a family sat unaware that their night would soon end with a shock and a scare. As they drank hot chocolate with a candy cane, a man entered their home who was certifiably insane…
What could this be? It is The Christmas Tapes, set for release to the digital world on December the 16th of 2022. Perfectly timed for the holiday season, directed by Randy Nundlall Jr. (The Other Girl 2020, Infrared 2022) and Robert Livings (Two People 2017, Weekend Healer 2020), The Christmas Tapes is a Horror Anthology with a festive twist. The film takes place on Christmas Eve as a happy family of four indulge in their tradition of opening one present before Christmas morning. However, there is a knock at the door, so the youngest son answers it to find a man holding a gift box. He tells the family that he has broken down and needs to use their phone. The family figured he will only be a minute, so what could be the harm? Unfortunately, the man has an ulterior motive and soon the family finds themselves forced to watch a series of scary home videos.
Filmed in found footage style, The Christmas Tapes is a fun addition to a genre which is so often hit and miss amongst audiences. The daughter of the family, Rachel (Ruby Setnik: Sundays series) is an aspiring filmmaker. Adding to the twist, she receives a video camera for Christmas and proceeds to document the terrifying night that follows. As well as the scenes in the family home, The Christmas Tapes shows the audience other stories filmed in found footage style. Whilst this could have felt jarring, it never does and instead each different story brings something new for the audience. Similarly, to how each of us has a favorite Christmas tradition, each part of the anthology will appeal most to a different audience member.
Horror wise, whilst the most die-hard Horror aficionados will most likely take The Christmas Tapes in their stride, the film definitely has its moments. Also starring the likes of Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie 2000, The Devil’s Rejects 2005), Greg Sestero (The Room 2003, Cyst 2020), and Vernon Wells (The Road Warrior 1981, Commando 1985), The Christmas Tapes is sinister, creepy, and creates tension well. There are elements of comedy which add to the festive atmosphere and the performances are good with the villainous characters in particular being great fun to watch. Often, films of this nature can be let down by their unfortunate budgetary constraints. Luckily for The Christmas Tapes this is certainly not the case, and the lower budget only adds to the film’s overall aesthetics and visuals, as well as working well with the tone and found footage style.
Furthermore, one desired element of any Christmas-themed film, Horror or not, is whether it has the criteria to become a repeat watch – a film that is returned to every holiday season for years to come. The Christmas Tapes may not be the quintessential holiday classic or the scariest Christmas Horror film of all time, but it certainly has all the elements that could see it become a Christmas stalwart. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.