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Review: Reel Nightmare Films’ Dead by Christmas

Movie magic that was captured in films like Silent Night, Deadly Night only happens once in a lifetime, but Dead by Christmas comes pretty close! The new film by Together Magic and Reel Nightmare Films has practical special effects, the right amount of camp, and the right amount of retro nostalgia that’ll bring audiences back to the 1980’s…if you can ignore the modern clothes and technology. Dead by Christmas follows a small group of friends who are reunited for the holidays, only for their past transgressions and secrets to come to the surface over a decade after they left the orphanage. Now, a Santa suit wearing serial killer is stalking the streets of Louisiana, and the ghost from Christmas past has blood and guts on his wish list tonight. Written by Armand Petri and Art Arutyunyan, Dead By Christmas stars Holly Bonney, Dawn Streeck, Maggie Buck, Cody Wise, Hilary Porter, Austin William Morgan, Nicholas Hemb, Steven Montz, Debby Gerber and Vince Rodriguez. Hang your stalkings with care before a new, Christmas killer rips them down in Dead by Christmas!

I’m definitely a fan of the Christmas horror subgenre, so Dead by Christmas hit the spot for me. More than anything, it shows that director Armand Petri is getting better as a film-maker and many of the errors that were made in his previous endeavors have been remedied here. Armand (who also served as cinematographer) and editors Art Arutyunyan & Tracy Norwood have really sharpened their skills and turned out an independent slasher flick that’s worthy of your time. The experimental nature of Armand & Art’s film-making style has been toned down and used in just the right places, and the ambiance and mood in this movie is quite apparent and on point. Although some scenes at night are a tad out of focus, the retro story, the surprising amounts of gore, and the dastardly villain more than make up for the production’s other shortcomings. Dead by Christmas is easily the most profession film on the Reel Nightmare catalog, and it’s hitting DVD and VOD today, so make sure you snag your copy here.

Going back to a previous point, I can see some inspiration from Silent Night, Deadly Night. Instead of witnessing their parents sexual assaulted and murdered by a man dressed as Santa, the characters in this movie all witnessed similar trauma before, during, or after their time in a cringey orphanage. Perhaps the killer Santa in this movie is a representation of their fears and guilt more than anything else. It’s a much needed dose of something else – psychological terror – that only adds to this title’s drama and suspense that takes place between all the mayhem. With an average body count and heavy measures of heart, Dead by Christmas is a worthy addition to the Christmas horror subgenre. If you don’t buy or stream your copy this month, and you’re a fan of true independent cinema, then please consider watching this movie in the future. You really can’t beat a nifty, retro, gory slasher flick featuring a killer dressed as Santa. That’s the biggest selling point here, folks, if you haven’t noticed!

Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)

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