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The Nights Before Christmas review

By Daniel King

This sequel to 2017’s ‘Once Upon a Time at Christmas’ sees the return of psycho killers Nick and Michelle, who style themselves as Santa (British actor Simon Phillips) and Mrs Claus (Sayla de Goede), leaving a trail of carnage as they work their way through a ‘naughty or nice’ Christmas list of people who have wronged them.

The film follows the efforts of the FBI agent (Kate Schroder) trying to bring the sickos in and it soon settles into a pattern of ‘murder-clue-murder-clue’ all the way to the end.

Director Paul Tanter, who also helmed the first film and is working on a second sequel due for release next year, seems to have little interest in much beyond the kill sequences: there’s no atmosphere and the script has no sense or wit to it.

It’s the kind of film where the characters don’t behave according to their personality but merely to serve the narrative and as a result of having nothing to work with, the performances are either phoned in or turned up to 11.

Almost everything in the film has been done many times before; surely after all these years a film-maker can come up with an idea more original than a cackling lunatic in a filthy Santa costume? I mean, that was the basis for one of the stories in the Amicus film ‘Tales from the Crypt’ and that was nearly 50 years ago.

Despite decent production values and a good twist towards the end, I’m afraid this is a chore to sit through and at 103 minutes it’s not a quick chore either.

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