When I think of Christmas movies, my thoughts usually employ family, trees, stockings, ornaments, presents and of course, Santa Claus. Spanish director Paco Plaza seems to annex a more unorthodox vision in regards to the holiday. Its a good thing too, because his vision makes for one of the best holiday horror films Ive ever had the pleasure of viewing. If you enjoyed the power of [REC], youll likely enjoy this one. While the two bare little to no similarities, CHRISTMAS TALE is a damn fine film, and is hardly outshined by Plaza's better recognized work.
When five children discover a woman dressed in a Santa suit has fallen into a well, they rush to obtain aide. But when two of the children spot a wanted poster donning the woman's face, claiming theft of a large sum of money, innocent intentions sway. Rather than helping free the captive criminal, they blackmail her, and demand all of the money in exchange for her freedom. After spending a few days in the hole, Santa begrudgingly forks over the cash. The children however, begin to question their safety, and the ramifications of keeping the woman enslaved, and decide to leave her in the well. Ole Saint Nick eventually manages to escape captivity, and she's damn angry. It seems those annoying kids will have to face the consequences of their actions.
The cast is perfect. There's an efficient blend of dark humor, compassion, and most important an acute viciousness, that keep this story rolling at a steady and enjoyable pace. Every character in the story has a strong, unique personality (including Tito, played by Pau Poch, one of the youngsters who happens to be obsessed with The Karate Kid), and every prepubescent in the film provide convincing imitations of seasoned veterans. Maru Valdivielso is terrific in the shoes of the villain Rebeca Exposito, but the kids really steal the show. A wonderful script written and directed by Paco Plaza, terrific performances from a group of extremely talented youngins, and an eerie score composed by Mikel Salas earn this one a place in my â€˜favorites' stack of DVD's.
You can check out the film, along with five solid others in the collection FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE. The set features work from filmmakers Alex de la Iglesia, Narciso Ibanez Serrador, Paco Plaza, Enrique Urbizu, Mateo Gil, and Jaume Balaguer. With AFTER DARK's HORRORFEST and Sam Raimi's GHOST HOUSE PICTURES, it's easy to see how this horror compilation may go unnoticed. I urge you to not let this happen; FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE is better than both of the aforementioned collections. The season may be behind us, but it's no reason to miss this joyous occasion.
For a surprisingly unique twist on seasonal horror, check out Christmas Tale, as this film delivers, and delivers big.