Playing Saturday at midnight to a sold-out crowd was Mike McMurran's seasonal slasher, Secret Santa.
A gift-giving party between university classmates in interrupted by a deranged killer.
I had caught wind of considerable ire about this movie leading up to the screening, so I was interested to see what could of caused such lambasting. I assumed it was some sort of knee-jerk reaction to the sullying the good name of Ol' Saint Nick, much like the uproar caused by Silent Night, Deadly Night back in the day, but upon viewing I realized that couldn't be the case. Truth be told, Secret Santa has more in common with The Prowler than it does that infamous holiday horror.
|Nicole Kawalez as Olivia in Secret Santa.
I'm not quite sure why Secret Santa got such a bad rap. Sure, the production values are sub par, but as far as low-budget slashers go, it's pretty functional. The gore provided by local splatter gurus The Butcher Shop is solid and Andre Becker's great retro-synth score sets the mood perfectly. And while there are a good deal of awkward pauses and a lot of filler – most notably an overlong tangent about cramming for exams – that make the case this may have made a stronger twenty-minute short, I can't say I didn't enjoy this movie.
You know what a sucker I am for slashers, so feel free to take my opinion as biased, but there was more than enough here to keep me engaged. For one thing, Secret Santa does something that most slashers don't bother to do these days, which was not make it immediately apparent who the Final Girl was. The movie also has a pretty good hook in which the characters receive packages containing weapons connected to their intended demise. The reveal at the climax was good for a chuckle, as well.
|Cast & crew of Secret Santa.
Secret Santa might be a bit rough for most pallettes, but for fans of DIY slashers I'd say give this a shot. It's got gore, it's got attractive ladies and it's got enough tweaks to the standard tropes to keep you interested for its less than eighty minute running time.
*Q&A photo courtesy of BITS