CHRISTMAS BLOOD (a.k.a. Juleblod) *** Norway 2017 Dir: Reinert Kiil. 104 mins
A brutal, creepy prologue sets the scene for this festive Norwegian slasher movie: a Santa-suited killer has notched up a prodigious body count over the last couple of decades, targeting law breakers with his own “naughty list” at Christmas time. The psycho escapes incarceration in Oslo while authority figures talk in recycled Dr Loomis dialogue (“He is the manifestation of pure evil”) and a group of reunited, multinational female friends get together in the village where he is hiding out.
Overlength is the biggest weakness of this often visually inventive movie, with too many characters (including some rapey rednecks) introduced to boost the death toll and an excess of transparent fake-shocks in which someone typically dons a creepy Santa mask just to freak out her boyfriend. Clichés generally weaken the impact, particularly a goofy, gross coroner who eats excessively (and belongs in a different movie) while removing maggots from a female corpse. At the core, however, is an atmospheric, nasty old-school slasher movie. Director Kiil makes clever use of reflective surfaces and offbeat vantage points, while staging short, sharp, intense kill scenes. The protagonists are attractive and likeable, even if the boyfriend-stealing sub-plots are soapy and the characterisations never evolve much further than the running gag of a girl who has orgasms in her sleep.
Review by Steven West