Tuesday, June 25, 2024

‘Carnage for Christmas’ Review – Imaginative Holiday Horror Movie Suffers from Overstuffed Story

At only 19 years old, Australian Alice Maio Mackay is already an accomplished filmmaker. Known for low budget, indie genre films like So Vam (2021) and Bad Girl Boogey (2022), Mackay routinely tells exceptional stories about characters running from monsters and masked killers from the horrifying perspective of what it’s like to fight for your life while being Queer and transgender in a bigoted small town.

Mackay’s newest film, Carnage for Christmas, is a fast-paced, blood-soaked whodunit, which follows a true crime podcaster returning to her small hometown years after transitioning and has to solve a series of gruesome murders, which the local police seem to be ignoring.

Carnage for Christmas, written by Mackay and Benjamin Pahl Robinson (So Vam, Bad Girl Boogey), and directed by Mackay, introduces us to Lola (Jeremy Moineau) while she is recording the latest episode of her true crime podcast. Lola closes the episode with an urban legend from her hometown of Purdan, Australia. When she was growing, up kids would dare each other to go inside an abandoned house where a toymaker had allegedly killed his entire family, and then himself, while dressed as Santa Claus in the 1930s. As a child, Lola made a shocking discovery inside the house, which led to her interest in true crime and forensic science.

Lola decides to return to Purdan for Christmas for the first time since transitioning, and soon she finds herself not only dealing with transphobic residents of the small town, but also unexpectedly trying to figure out who has been committing a series of grisly local murders. The killer is dressed as Santa Claus, just like the toymaker, and appears to be targeting Queer and transgender victims. Not surprising to Lola, the police don’t seem to be interested in solving the murders, so she turns to her boyfriend Charlie (Zarif) and her sister Danielle (Dominique Booth) for help.

Moineau is fantastic as Lola, with a lilting voice perfect for podcasting, and she carries herself with an air of sophisticated confidence, even when she is the target of harassment. Mackay is an especially creative genre storyteller, but there is almost too much story for the audience to keep up with by the time the killer is revealed, and Carnage for Christmas reaches its 70-minute runtime. Adventurous editing from Vera Drew (The People’s Joker) is slightly reminiscent of Rob Zombie’s style with House of 1000 Corpses, but this stylistic choice doesn’t always work for this film. Instead, the movie occasionally feels out of sync due to the scene transitions.

There is no shortage of unique, bloody kills and excellent practical effects in Carnage for Christmas. There is even the use of the macabre Viking blood eagle method of torture, which viewers will recognize from the Hannibal television series, and the Santa Claus mask the killer wears is the stuff of nightmares.

While Carnage for Christmas would benefit from more compact, less elaborate storytelling and less artistic editing, the film does feature standout performances, especially from Moineau as Lola, and an original backstory based on a terrifying and distinctive urban legend.

Carnage for Christmas premiered virtually at this year’s Chattanooga Film Festival.

3 skulls out of 5

The post ‘Carnage for Christmas’ Review – Imaginative Holiday Horror Movie Suffers from Overstuffed Story appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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