The long Christmas break is upon us again. And if you don’t plan to travel and prefer to get all cosy at home instead, among the things you can do is to visit or revisit some Christmas-themed movies. Not the usual jolly and kid-friendly Christmas movies, where you can watch with your whole family. I’m talking about something different than the usual norm. More like the 8 Best Christmas Horror Movies worth checking out.
1) P2 (2007)
Ever feel insecure when you are walking alone in the parking garage to get to your car after hours? And more so when the parking garage is empty because everyone else, say from the office has already left the building? It was the kind of fear that (most) women can relate since it hits so close to home.
For young and ambitious businesswoman Angela Bridges (Rachel Nichols of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and TV’s “Alias” fame), that’s exactly what happens to her on the night of Christmas Eve. “P2”, which refers to the level number of the multi-storey parking garage of a high-rise office building, made good use of the premise for an effective cat-and-mouse horror thriller. The dark and dank parking garage turns out to be an ideal setting for this kind of movie. Not to forget Rachel Nichols’ engaging turn as Angela and Wes Bentley’s creepy performance as the psychopathic security guard.
2) Wind Chill (2007)
This little-seen supernatural horror starred Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes, two college students sharing a ride home for a long Christmas break, only to end up stranded on a snowy highway. “Wind Chill” may have been a ghost story but the movie leans more on the psychological sides of these two characters. The movie also benefits from a chilling score and icy-blue cinematography that effectively captured the dread-inducing stillness of the silent snow. Interestingly enough, “Wind Chill” eschew the tradition by just naming these two characters as “Girl” and “Guy”.
3) Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
So, you think Santa Claus is a jolly good fellow? Well, definitely not for this 1984 low-budget slasher called “Silent Night, Deadly Night”. The idea of featuring a crazy killer in a Santa suit is a novelty premise. The movie also deserves credit for establishing the main character’s (Robert Brian Wilson’s Billy Chapman) psychological journey that triggers him to start killing people. It was a hit at the time of its release — a result that spawned several sequels and even remakes. But believe it or not, the movie turned out to be controversial during the holiday season. All to the point that the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and an angry mob of families demanded “Silent Night, Deadly Night” to be removed from the cinemas due to its subject matter.
4) Black Christmas (1974)
Forget about the 2006 and 2019 versions, both ill-advised remakes that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. The original “Black Christmas” released in 1974 remains the real deal and interestingly enough, this low-budget cult classic was notable for introducing the then-new “slasher genre”. The slasher genre, which later inspired countless others, notably “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” a few years later. “Black Christmas” boasts a simple but effective storytelling hook: A group of sorority sisters find themselves a victim of stalk-and-prey by a psycho killer while on a Christmas break. Director Bob Clark effectively uses the familiar Christmas setting to evoke an unlikely foreboding sense of dread. And it works, with the movie boasting some well-crafted suspenseful moments.
5) Gremlins (1984)
This Christmas-set horror-comedy needs no introduction, given its mass popularity as one of the best of its kind ever made. “Gremlins” refers to the mischievous and mean little creatures who love to wreak havoc. Well, it all happens when the supposedly cute and fuzzy creative named Gizmo inadvertently spawns the aforementioned creatures following an accident.
From the impressive creature effects to the effective mix of comedy and violent horror, “Gremlins” is an engrossing Christmas horror staple worth checking out. The huge success of the first movie led to a bigger-budgeted 1990 sequel called “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”. Too bad the sequel didn’t do well in the box office, even though I actually liked it better than the first one.
6) Krampus (2015)
Pre-“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” helmer Michael Dougherty got one of his earlier starts directing the low-budget “Krampus”. The title in question refers to the European folklore of a half-goat, half-demon creature who punishes naughty children during Christmas. The result? A scary, tongue-in-cheek genre movie that blends horror and comedy effectively. It has a great creature effect too, thanks to the director’s insistence of favouring more on practical over CGI.
7) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
This isn’t your typical Santa Claus in “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale”. But rather an evil one, where this Finnish horror-comedy offers a fresh spin to the age-old Santa Claus myth that we have otherwise grown accustomed to. The movie has an added fantastical vibe to it and even some action while the snowy setting gives it an appropriately dread-inducing feel.
8) Better Watch Out (2016)
A 12-year-old boy and a babysitter find themselves facing an unlikely home invasion during Christmas. That’s the basic premise for “Better Watch Out”. But it isn’t your garden-variety horror movies about home invasion. Well, let’s just say the movie chooses to twist its familiar genre inside out, offering a mix of sardonic sense of humour and some wicked twists.