Directed by Craig Anderson, Red Christmas premiered in Australia in the summer of 2016 and became widely available in the US (on DVD and streaming) in October 2017. When I say that Red Christmas is disturbing—even unpleasant—I’m in no way saying you shouldn’t watch this film; indeed, it seems poised to become a holiday classic. It’s disturbing and unpleasant in the way horror films should be, and it joins a pantheon of similarly disturbing holiday films, not least Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974) and Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E. Sellier, Jr., 1984). To the extent that horror films make manifest what we repress and deny, the holidays (which demand extra helpings of repression and denial if mass mayhem is to be avoided) are undeniably ripe for the most disturbing of horror films. Enter, Red Christmas.
My most awe inspiring encounters with nefarious rabbits include the first time I laid eyes on the massive black costume of “Bunny” while at a rave with Rabbit in the Moon and the first time that my innocent anticipating eyes consumed the film Watership Down (1978). While both of these are definitively scary (and potentially traumatizing), they do not encompass the spirit of Easter. If your family is anything like mine, nothing spells holidays like some old fashioned repression and subsequent bursts of aggression (or passive aggressiveness in our house). For all of you who can appreciate laughing at inappropriate times and poking fun at established traditions, then this list is for you!
Author: Neil Gravino
Easter is a short film in the Holidays horror anthology, released in 2016. Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy, it tells the tale of a young girl (played by Ava Acres), who is conflicted about the Easter holiday; having just learned of Jesus’s death and resurrection at church, she has a hard time reconciling the story with her mom’s tales of the Easter Bunny, whom no child has actually seen. What follows is one of the most disturbing yet surreal scenes out of recent horror: as the girl traverses the dark hallway of her home to get a glass of water, she encounters the Easter Bunny. But as is to be expected of a horror story, this Bunny is a horrifying, blasphemous combination of the cute holiday mascot and Christ— the raw, flayed, crown of thorns, pierced side, and stigmata-riddled Christ of the Crucifixion story. He is the girl’s confusion made real. Cowering in fear of this monstrosity, the girl is told that she must now “take [his] place.” When the girl questions whether she will see her mother again, the creature replies— with seemingly sadistic glee— that she never will. The short then ends with the girl transforming into a new Easter Bunny. Read more
2016 | R | USA | Multiple Directors | 105 min
Holidays, released in April 2016, is a horror anthology featuring eight short films (which I’ll list with directors at the end). Since I’m not a huge fan of anthologies, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one—and that’s in large part due to the strong narrative continuities that bind the individual films together. Collectively, they (1) illuminate the often primitive violence that still lurks beneath our holidays rituals; (2) showcase the power of body horror; and (3) make strikingly clear that a major gender transformation is not happening but has already happened in horror.
(1) Three of the films explicitly take up the rituals surrounding some of our most vaunted holidays, now more often than not papered over with Hallmark cards and polite, well-coiffed brunches in expensive restaurants. Read more
In celebration of Father’s Day I thought it best to take a look at the horror film that canonized the day best. “Father’s Day” is one of five short stories included in in the film Creepshow (1982). From the minds of George A. Romero and Stephen King, Creepshow pays homage to the EC horror comics of the 1950s while working out the 1980s challenges to patriarchy. Due to the primacy of the father and obviously the name of the story I will focus on “Father’s Day” and then critique the film’s treatment of the leading representations of patriarchy.