Director: Adam Marcus
Cast: Michelle Renee Allaire, Petra Areskoug, Scott Burkett
Watch Secret Santa online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Sky Store
It’s the same every Christmas. The family come over. The food is served. The presents are wrapped. Everyone tries to kill each other. If that’s sounding familiar already, either you have a very horrible family, or you’re not taking Secret Santa literally enough.
Adam Marcus’ seasonal horror is either the most or least festive flick in recent memory, depending on where you stand on bodily mutilation and brutal dismemberment. We begin in a peaceful scene right out of a snow globe, only for the snow globe itself to be used to bludgeon someone’s face in – the holiday spirit weaponised in a way that’s horribly effective. We then rewind four hours to watch things escalate to Snowglobemageddon. What was the tinder box to light this lethal yule log?
The answer lies in an exorcism of sorts, as the Pope family’s genial appearance is stripped away to reveal the avarice underneath. Estranged spouses, bitter siblings, depressed parents – all are welcome at this last Christmas supper, and they all end up atoning for confessions of past deeds, long-held grudges, and horrifically un-PC views. The entertainment lies not in the shock of offensive things being said but in the bloody carnage that they bring about – because there’s nothing more dangerous at Christmas than being honest about how you really feel about your family.
Marcus, who has Texas Chainsaw 3D on his CV, leans into the nastiness with tongue firmly impaled through his cheek, shooting the messy violence with dated visuals and a cheesy, retro vibe that recalls home videos made by amateurs back in the 70s. The result won’t resonate emotionally – It’s a Wonderful Life, it isn’t – but it will make you chuckle and gasp with the sheer mayhem and ribald audacity of this gory satire, one that lacks a spiked punch and a wicked sense of jet-black humour. You won’t want to watch this with any members of your family, but you’ll never sit down for dinner with them in the same way again.