MERCY CHRISTMAS *** USA 2017 Dir: Ryan Nelson. 83 mins
Christmas-loving, downtrodden office schmoe Steven Hubbell – the kind of endearing loser who buys an extension lead for his Secret Santa gift – gets a welcome reprieve from a huge festive workload in the shape of beautiful blonde Casey O’Keefe. An invite to her family Christmas dinner results in a grim scenario telegraphed by the fact that his surname is “Brisket”.
Though it lacks the verbal wit and acidic barbs of SECRET SANTA and softens its sharper edges with likeable leads, this is an often funny satire of the festive season’s consumer frenzy. Dinner table small talk revolves around the crispy skin on the meat, stalwart Grandma insists no one pisses on the winds of tradition and there are the usual time pressures involving getting the legs in the oven. Characters debate where mincemeat actually comes from and excitable, genteel Dad snaps photos of the happy occasion while someone slices off some fresh arse-cheek meat. Hubbell is an enjoyably useless hero, symbolising the plight of white-collar workers everywhere as even his Christmas is spent (literally) chained to a desk while he waits to (literally) be roasted. It has a pleasantly nasty streak with its violence, as irrational characters bludgeon old women (amongst others) with everyday household objects.
Review by Steven West