I feel inadequate. Christmas Evil has gotten everything on the dot. It’s a story about a young boy named Harry who is traumatized by Christmas, and grows up to be a man who wants to fix everyone’s mistakes by becoming Santa Claus. It begins with him committing acts of great charity, and culminates with the murder of three people in front of a church. Let’s drive right in…
Harry wakes up to find his mommy being kissed by Santa Claus—not on the lips, but on something else entirely. This weirds him out, and he grows up obsessed with Santa. He wears the suit when he goes to bed, and always hums Christmas carols. He’s not that bad of a guy, even if he does spy on children. We feel bad for him—his coworkers mistreat him, his brother mistreats him, and he feels as if no one understands the true meaning of Christmas. Unlike the kid from Silent Night, Deadly Night (which I thankfully avoided this time around), Harry doesn’t grow up particularly screwed up from the Santa-related sickness from his youth—it changes him into a man of peace. Even if he is very disturbed.
Slowly, Harry moves away from his normal life and begins to get presents together to give to the good children, after he hears about a hospital for the mentally retarded that the toy company he works for didn’t give proper toys to. He becomes angry at the people who didn’t deliver the toys properly, but he has kindness in his heart. He puts together a very detailed Santa outfit and goes off to deliver the toys—the scene in which he delivers them spares no details in being genuinely heartwarming. It’s something that shows that the movie has heart, pretty early in…
But one must remember. We’re dealing with a horror movie. There is no true happiness to be found, in all practical horror movie theory. I describe the toy giving scene as though the whole movie has been moving and caring (if sad) up until this point. That is incorrect—it hasn’t been. The movie makes sure not to let us forget that Harry is indeed mentally disturbed, and he has a number of small psychotic episodes leading up to this point. In the scene immediately following the one at the hospital, he shows up at a church service where his coworkers are having a Christmas mass. Then, as they laugh at him walking out of the church, he gouges their eyes out and stabs them to death, making a clean getaway in his holiday-decorated van. And then we realize that the movie we are dealing with has something special going on.
There’s a lot to analyze in this movie—one of the themes, I think, has to be karma. Good equals out with bad—naughty and nice are in harmony, as it were. Following this particular scene, Harry entertains people at a Christmas dance—a kind act that makes many people happy. Yet immediately afterwards, he goes to the house of a coworker and attempts to smother him with a pillow, slashing his throat with a tree star when he fails. The ending sequences—in which a bunch of angry townsfolk chase down Harry with pitchforks and torches to his brother’s house, where he is strangled, seemingly to death—are eerily heartbreaking. The final ending almost makes up for it, in a strange, thoroughly surreal fashion—it needs to be seen to be believed. These ending parts show what we’re dealing with, in the form of Harry. Simply put, Harry is a warm, loving man who just wants peace on Earth; but he is human, and subject to weakness at the center of it all. He kills only for revenge, not out of malevolence or pure, uncut insanity. His anger drives him to his terrible acts, and his obsession drives him to his kind ones. It’s remarkable that a horror film can accomplish such a complex message.
Sadly enough, I walked in on Christmas Evil expecting Silent Night, Deadly Night—Santa kills all those who dare to engage in some physical lovin’. Mercifully, my unfortunate suspicions were allayed when I realized that it had something else in the bag of goodies. It’s truly a Christmas gift that one can appreciate.
I would normally tell you not to look for the horror movie within, and look instead for something that embodies the Christmas spirit. However, that would spoil the unique experience. I can only say this: expect nothing, and you will be adequately rewarded. I hope that you have all had a Merry Christmas—this movie made sure that I certainly did.