By David Dent
“Oh oh oh it’s an eyesore safari, ugly sweater party!” sing Mo Bluntz and Minnie Blanco in the theme song to this really dumb slacker stoner horror comedy.
It’s a bit of an earworm and arguably the best thing in a movie that tries really hard and yet doesn’t give a flying one, both at the same time.
Cliff and Jody, a couple of likeable twits, are en route to a party in the woods, hosted by two of their more ‘game’ classmates, Samantha and Susan. What they don’t know is that the girls have just found Christ and have renounced the flesh – the party venue is actually a bible camp – and that it’s actually a, yep, ugly sweater themed party.
Our guys have come sartorially unprepared but when they spy a bedraggled figure walking along the road, carrying with him an ugly sweater, they take it off him. Little do they know that the sweater contains an evil force that is about to turn the wearer – Cliff in this case – into a possessed killer, and that the hobo with whom they’ve had the confrontation is in fact a police officer who has been attempting to keep the sweater out of harm’s way.
So of course possessed Cliff and Jody – on whose T shirt Cliff has drawn a perspiring fat guy so he can have his own ‘ugly sweater’ (geddit?) turn up at Camp Mandix (yep, it’s that kind of a movie) run by Councillor and Mrs Mandix (the latter played by Felissa Sleepaway Camp Rose) and an assortment of oddballs, and mayhem ensues.
The first half of Ugly Sweater Party is the best – the jokes come thick and fast and the duo of Cliff (Charles Chudabala) and Jody (Hunter Johnson) work really well together.
Sadly the last part is an incoherent mess, punctuated by interludes by a metal band and some woeful CGI effects (yes I know this is a low budget movie, but the first part utilised some old school practical FX which worked much better).
I did laugh at the camp dance – the Mandix Mambo – and the actors all give it their best, but I felt it was probably a much better film to make than to watch. Also as a Christmas movie it’s only nominally so; I can’t see this one being a staple of yuletide watching in years to come.