By David Dent
A series of killings takes place every Christmas Eve across Norway, the work of a serial killer who’s cross checking a list of 324 ‘naughty’ people, drawn up from media reports of people who have broken the law.
After 121 victims, grizzled Detective Thomas Rasch finally tracks down and kills the murderer, dressed of course in a Santa Claus outfit. But the killer lives and is incarcerated in a secure facility.
In 2016 the murderer escapes his medical prison and resumes his killing spree, picking up where he left off.
But unbeknownst to him the next victim on his list has already killed herself. Heading for the house where she lived, the victim’s daughter Susan is hosting a party with a group of young female friends to help her get over the loss of her mother.
Meanwhile enthusiastic (and very squeamish) CID agent TerjeHansen CID has taken Rasch’s job, and it falls to him to catch the escaped killer. But Hansen can’t do it on his own, and must enlist the help of Rasch, now an alcoholic, to stop Santa before his killing spree starts again.
Director Reinert Kiil’s feature is a Christmas version of Halloween, replacing one holiday with another. Like Michael Myers, the unnamed Santa figure is profiled as ‘pure evil’ – a psychopath’s psychopath, and like Carpenter’s creation is unstoppable and seemingly unkillable.
Christmas Blood is often beautiful to look at. Sodium lights illuminate great swathes of snowfall, and the Norwegian locations look stunningly bleak.
Where the movie falls down is the sheer amount of characters introduced in the film, right up almost to the end, with seemingly little narrative purpose, and the uneven mix of styles – straight ahead slasher, good cop/bad cop alliance, police procedural and twentysomething drama all rub up against each other uneasily.
It’s an at times extremely gory movie, but Kiil doesn’t seem that confident with these scenes, and they’re often so darkly rendered that it’s difficult to see what’s going on (the effects people must have been a little cheesed off that so much of their handiwork remains half glimpsed).
So plus points for atmosphere here, but deductions in the overall score for uncertain characterisation and muddled storytelling.