The Christmas horror movie has always seemed an underpopulated genre to me, especially when you consider how ripe the subject matter is for exploitation. With the PTA-led protests that surrounded the mid-eighties release of Silent Night, Deadly Night though, we can perhaps see that any depiction of Kris Kringle as a knife-wielding psycho certainly fires up the puritanicals.
The twenty-tens though have seen a welcome spike in holiday-themed shenanigans; the decade starting with two phenomenal Euro-horror’s in the shape of Sint (2010) and Rare Exports (2010), while last year alone gave us the joyously entertaining Krampus, and the shat-tastic A Christmas Horror Story. Meanwhile, this coming weekend unleashes everyone’s favourite mutant killer snowman to Blu-ray courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome. It’s quite the time to be alive folks.
Looking at Todd Nunes’ new movie, anyone with even the slightest appreciation for those heady slasher days of the eighties, will no doubt squeal in misty-eyed familiarity at the garden shears nod to The Burning (1981), or the Mrs. Voorhees nature of the unhinged Mrs. Garrett (Melynda Kiring); but, with a masked-psycho on the loose, who bears an uncanny resemblance to ‘ol Saint Nick, then much of your time spent watching ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE is likely to be spent wondering if this seasonal slice n’dice is more deserving of a seat alongside the original Silent Night, Deadly Night or its loveable disaster of a sequel.
We begin fifteen years earlier, where a peaceful Christmas neighbourhood in Napa, California was engulfed by fear when five-year-old Jamie Garrett was mysteriously taken from her bedroom, never to be seen again. Now on Christmas break, Rachel Kimmel (Ashley Mary Nunes) comes home from college to find her neighbourhood struck again by a reign of terror, as a violent killer is hiding behind a grisly Santa Claus mask, leaving a bloody trail of slaughtered women and castrated men, with Rachel about to discover the twisted secret behind the jolly façade.
If you pressed play on All Through the House with any sense of seasonal disillusionment caused by a never-ending conveyor belt of sub-par Krampus knock-offs that seem to be infiltrating the horror market, then drink your eggnog and relax, as a luridly violent pre-credits sequence swiftly allays such tinsel-toned cynicism. Our Santa-psycho is a very cool creation, with a mask to infiltrate your nightmares and predilection for lopping off male genitalia, their clippers-wielding devastation is ably conveyed by make-up whiz Tommy Pietch.
Such practical FX inventiveness is undoubtedly one of the key assets of the picture, and Pietch, who began his career in the adult film industry under the pseudonym Twin Peeks, handling the make-up for other holiday classics like How the Grinch Gaped Christmas, is obviously in his element with a litany of wince-inducing masochism.
Nunes meanwhile, who scripts as well as directs delivers a good screenplay with a satisfyingly simple narrative, albeit one that feels a little stretched come the hour mark. It’s a minor gripe though, as his sister Ashley fits into the lead role just fine, and has enough screen presence to steer the movie through to its homage-happy climax.
With 101 Films in the UK issuing this with a little of the lush artwork they used to be associated with, All Through the House is an attractive looking purchase. It may not be in the same Yuletide gentry as our holiday hall-of-famers of years gone by, but keep it close to hand, as this trashy low-budgeter is far from a turkey.
ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE is out now via 101 Films in the UK and FilmRise in the US
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