(Original post at The National Student)
Horror legend Dee Wallace, best known for her roles in The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, and Cujo, stars in the Ozploitation slasher flick Red Christmas.
Wallace plays Diane, a mother of four who gathers her children together for a final Christmas before she sells the family home. Despite Diane’s desire for this to be “the best Christmas ever,” sibling tensions soon rise, particularly between religious conservative Suzy and her outspoken sister Ginny.
Whilst the family bickers, a bandaged stranger named Cletus arrives at the house with a letter addressed to ‘Mother’. The family’s initial pity gives way to anger and suspicion as Cletus espouses his extreme religious views. When rejected by Diane, Cletus embarks on his revenge.
The premise is standard, but the themes aren’t. When the film’s not busy dismembering various members of the cast, Red Christmas concerns itself with a fraught social issue: abortion.
The aftermath of a bombing at an abortion clinic twenty years ago threatens to tear the family apart, figuratively and literally.
All in all, it’s not a bad setting for a horror film. That’s perhaps why it’s such a shame that Red Christmas is so uneven. The film’s message about abortion is unclear, and so the viewer’s endorsement of its politics is likely dependent on their sympathy (or lack thereof) for horror protagonists.
There are plenty of more interesting ways of exploring motherhood in horror than to simply punish the female characters.
Red Christmas is light on jokes, and those that make the cut are pretty weak.