Friday, December 22, 2017

December to Dismember: CHRISTMAS CRUELTY! (2013)

This, without question, is my lump of coal for the season. It's the perfect storm of crap. A shitnado, if you will. Lots of stuff happens, none of it good. Shot on video by a couple of Norwegian yutz's (Magne Steinsvoll and Per-Ingvar Tomren), CHRISTMAS CRUELTY! (originally titled HOLY CHRISTMAS! which was apparently too subtle for English speaking audiences) is pretty much the bottom of the yuletide barrel for so many reasons and it lives up to its title.

After an opening sequence in which a fat, middle-aged accountant is shown going about the labors of a home invasion with as much enthusiasm as a tax audit. He rapes the mother in front of the rest of the family and then decides "might as well start with the smallest first" and uses a circular saw on a screaming baby. Cue title sequence of young people ordering drinks, drinking, a band playing. And titles, and more titles. Holy fuckmas is there a movie here or is it just all titles?

Finally we get the movie proper rolling and I immediately wish we hadn't. A group of 20 somethings are hanging out in a bar with a band playing... still. Cue lots of drink ordering, band listening and 20-somethings being jackasses. There is the wheelchair-bound Per-Ingvar (co-director Per-Ingvar Tomren), and his abusive best friend, a long-haired metal guy, Magne (co-director Magne Steinsvoll). To be fair, Magne is abusive to everyone, because that's so metal, right? His dialogue consists mainly of randomly strung together swear words that thirteen-year-olds would probably find edgy and hilarious. He calls Per-Ingvar's mulled wine "weak cunt brew [that] tastes like seagull cum." I really don't want to know how he knows that. Then there is the girl, Eline (Eline Aasheim), who is far too nice to put up with all the abuse that gets heaped on her. Is this the cruelty, you ask? Nope, the cruelty is watching these idjits do nothing and enduring at least a dozen music montages (not even joking) for 60 minutes. Seriously. They sit around the apartment for a while, then they get the idea to make Krampus masks, then they go jump-scaring people in the streets while wearing said masks. Like the dialogue, I'm guessing these scenes of them running around being dill-holes in public are all improvised. But hey, it's all set to music, so it's all good right? Ugh.

After yet another long, pointless sequence, this one involving buying a Christmas tree with Magne letting out a stream of random obscenities on the salesman (metal!), the trio arrive back at the apartment to celebrate Christmas by getting completely hammered (set to music!) and passing out. That's it, that's the celebration. Sitting around getting drunk, listening to Magne's cussing and falling/dancing around in yet another music video sequence. Seriously, it's like fucking nails on a chalkboard with these music sequences. The music is from Magne's real-life band (which is definitely not metal) and that's great and all, but if you want to make music videos so badly that you make a "horror" movie that has more music video sequences than horror, why not go make some music videos in the first place!? Fuuuuuuuuuck.

Interspersed with this grueling monotony, we get snippets of our killer hanging out at the office (where a co-worker drones on at him with insignificant babble for, like, ever), where he has a novelty toilet coffee mug and a JAWS mouse pad. He takes a break from this to masturbate over dating sites - set to melancholy music, of course. Then we see him at home where he has rock stickers all over his filing cabinet as well as other genre movie stuff. This is one of those pet peeve things that hipsters will no doubt be in complete denial of. This psycho schlub is not going to be worshiping PULP FICTION (1994)! This is just the movie makers trying to impress the gullible by shouting "look how cool we are by putting all this movie shit in the sets!" And by "sets", I mean some dude's house. Adding insult to injury, the directors seem to thinking that by doing a randomly timed, rapid series of jump/smash cuts during these sequences is going to somehow heighten the sense of crazy. It doesn't, what it is, is really fucking annoying. I had to take my eyes off of the screen a couple times because it was causing eye-strain. Literally, this movie hurt my eyes.

The trio wake up hung over and to make matters worse, our fat, middle-aged guy decides they are the perfect homebodies to invade while dressed in a Santa suit (complete with the Santa mask from 2012's SILENT NIGHT). It's hardly the welcome relief that it sounds as our St. Nick slayer, who acts like he's bored with the routine, slowly tortures and kills them all with deadly seriousness. So intent on pushing this into a grimy subversive area of '70s roughies that the Santa killer stabs Eline in the crotch with a kitchen knife before raping her to the point where she begs for him to stop, at which point he stabs her in the chest, twisting the knife for a while. Yeah, I get it. They are trying to evoke the nastiness of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) and other sadistic '70s cult classics, but it feels like I'm watching some kids trying to be nasty, completely clashes with the "comedy" hour that we just endured and even worse, it's done with all the enthusiasm of cleaning a toilet.

In a clumsy attempt to throw some humor into the grim, drawn out killings, we get a lengthy scene of Santa trying to take a pee (and trying, and trying) before turning around a severed head that was "watching him" and then finally he pees (and pees, and pees). There's also a scene (set to music!) of Santa taking a break from smashing in faces and cutting off arms, to make a sandwich before going on to the arduous task of chainsawing the legs off of the cripple. Of course this is after a long sequence showing Santa (in the mask) buying the chainsaw with his victim's debit card. This also gets a music sequence complete with post-card-esque sunrise shot.

While the acting is about as rank amateur as you can get, the script is mostly ad-libs and the directing is basically pointing a video camera at people, the gore effects are surprisingly top-notch. Not that I really cared by the time that point rolled around, but in one scene we have a guy get his face smashed in with a hammer, a surprisingly well-crafted effect for what is clearly a zero-budget movie.

Not that the effects save the movie at all (fucking music montages!), but at least someone associated with this crap has some talent. As much as I may have made the movie sound endurable, it's not. I'd just like to point out that this is coming from the guy (me) who has willingly sat through Andreas Schnaas movies, some of them more than once. Remember that it has about an hour of utter bullshit and music video sequences before you get to the killing and even then they manage to throw in yet another crapload of music sequences before finally crawling to the end credits. Bah humbug, indeed.

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