THE NIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS ** Canada 2019 Dir: Paul Tanter. 103 mins
Director / co-writer Paul Tanter reunites here with the stars of his earlier jokey British slasher flick ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS (2017), in which the killings were modelled after the Yuletide favourite The 12 Days of Christmas.
This strained, vastly overlong sequel sees the returning axe-wielding, silver-toothed, cackling Santa (co-writer Simon Phillips) liberating his Mrs Claus (Sayla de Goede) from jail and resuming their earlier rampage – with a particular vendetta against the corrupt board of the asylum in which he was incarcerated. Topless girls and nefarious priests provide incidental victims while the world’s least convincing FBI agent (Kate Schroder) tracks the psychotic pseudo Saint Nick whose crimes have afforded him a position on the Ten Most Wanted list.
British actor Phillips has fun as the “equal parts crazy and smart” mad Santa, who pulled out his own teeth in order to be declared dead at an earlier crime scene. Unfortunately, his shtick – alongside the expected array of lame festively themed wisecracks – grows tired pretty quickly, and the intention of crafting a camp, silly Christmas slasher is thwarted by unimaginative kills and too much po-faced, dull procedural stuff. Hair in bunches and positioning her nutty sidekick-wife character somewhere between a low-budget Harley Quinn and Sheri Moon Zombie, Sayla de Goede is merely irritating as the wigged out Mrs Claus.
Pushing close to two hours (!), the flick fills out time with pointless exposition dumps and extraneous, stupid characters – and even bungles a potentially riotous climactic boardroom massacre. A cock-snipping moment at a urinal is a rare highlight – but only serves to remind you that you’d rather be rewatching DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS instead.
Review by Steven West