Viewed – 26 April 2016  online-rental

I can’t say these days I’m really a Christmas person and well, stopped watching Christmas themed movies a while back.  It’s something about the traditions, the schmaltz and the build up that mostly leaves me cold.  However outside of Christmas is watching a Christmas movie wrong?  Well I did it anyway, thankfully this one spins such age old traditions on their head.


A dysfunctional family are getting together to spend Christmas eating, getting drunk and arguing.  There’s a few stereotypes, such as the moody teenage daughter, the annoying brother in law, the creepy grandma and the wise beyond his years little kid.  It wear’s its clichés with pride however and perfectly sets the tone for a decidedly old-school yarn – with a bit of a sting in it’s tale.  You see said kid has lost all faith in the spirit of Christmas and just wishes his family were ‘like how they used to be’ and then suddenly, there’s a power cut, the town is blanketed in snow and something is lurking in the shadows.

For this one think Gremlins, a clear inspiration with a smattering of Critters and Poltergeist for good measure.  We get demonic Gingerbread Men, a mutated jack-in-the-box and the Krampus itself; a horned, hooved and cloaked monster.  I had a ball with this.  It’s very 80’s in its look and feel, and the cast of mostly b-list actors (with Toni Collette of Sixth Sense and Muriel’s Wedding fame) all do a good job of portraying their caricature-styled roles.  Along with a fun animated flashback to when one character first met the titular demon, this is packed with energy and creativity.  The reasoning behind why shit-goes-down initially seemed a bit ‘really?’, and that final scene felt like a cop-out.  And yes, it could have been scarier (it still managed to be creepy in the right places) and more violent … but as a fairly audience-friendly horror this still managed to deliver a quality evening’s viewing that’s worth checking out Christmas or not.

Verdict:  4 /5

The Hole 3D

Viewed – 27 September 2011  Blu-ray

Stop me if you have heard this one before.  A troubled family fleeing from an abusive husband / father relocate to a small town.  Eldest son doesn’t like it, but catches the eye of the hot girl living next door.  One day whilst messing about in their new home’s basement, he and his younger brother discover a hole beneath a trap door … that may just be a gateway to hell.  Yes, it’s just like The Gate frm the 80s.  What you’ve not heard of it?  It was great, trust me.

Director Joe Dante, most famous for Gremlins, makes a sort of come back with this family friendly scare-fest, that although the gimmick of 3D just means there is plenty of stuff being thrown at the screen, piles on enough imagination and energy that I never got bored.  We have an evil jester-puppet, a spooky dead girl, and plenty of things jumping out and going boo (well, kind of).  It’s actually pretty scary in places, but is light enough in tone that I had no fear of nightmares afterwards.  The young cast is all likable, if a little stereotyped, and the story is involving, despite the closing moments feeling like the characters just jumped from one movie into another … and various plot threads are left unanswered.

As an evening’s entertainment though, this will do the job nicely.

Verdict:  3 /5