Normally this post would be a seasonal Supermarket Sweep (see 2018 and 2019's roundups here and here), but my usual outlets have been a bit mean with the seasonal swag this year. So I've cast the net a little wider and rummaged around to bring you some Christmas fright flicks which are either new or that I haven't yet covered.
Set four years after the first movie, various survivors of the killing spree have left the area, either voluntarily or via victim relocation schemes. Courtney (Keegan Chambers), whose character was in the first film, but played by a different actor, is still in mourning for Joe, murdered by the Santa killers. Courtney's father catches up with her, now living in New York. But dad becomes the first victim of a new wave of terror perpetrated by the killers from the first movie, 'Santa Claus' (Simon Phillips) and his accomplice 'Mrs Claus' (Sayla de Goede).
Natalie Parker (Kate Schroder) is the FBI Agent who works out pretty quickly that Mr and Mrs Claus are back in town. Meanwhile Doctor Monica Mudd (Jennifer Wallis), who is Courtney's psychiatrist, was also the shrink treating the killing couple, whose real names are Nicholas Conway and Michelle Weaver; they met at an asylum, which allows me to slip in my 'there ain't no sanity clause' line. Mr and Mrs Claus catch up with Mudd at home, and murder her daughter Becky (Anne-Carolyne Binette) who's been upstairs doing a striptease for her boyfriend. The FBI apprehend Michelle, who has attended Becky's funeral, but its not long before she's escaped and the crazy pair are running rings around the cops, and continuing their murderous plan.
Tanter's film is incredibly frustrating. It looks fantastic; the photography is first rate. Canada stands in for the USA (like the first film) and its snowy forest scenery provides a dramatic backdrop to the action. But there's a problem; there isn't a single original idea in the film (although 1991's The Silence of the Lambs is clearly a big influence, with the Parker character standing in for Clarice Starling) so while it looks great, it's actually pretty boring. A 105 minute run time doesn't help.
Casting wise gravel voiced Phillips keeps losing his American accent and de Goede visually channels Harley Quinn from this year's Birds of Prey but with the psycho cutie mannerisms of Sheri Moon Zombie; it's pretty grating. Elsewhere Kate Schroder looks awkward in her role, not helped by a pitiful cliché ridden script; but there's a drinking game to be had for every time a character mentions the killer's naughty or nice list; "It's like an actual list!" Again and again. Not very good then.
On their first day as they prepare to take a helicopter to their chosen location, they see a corpse in a body bag being taken to the hotel for identification; the body is that of a man, seemingly left for dead on the Black Ridge. He's yet another casualty of the mountain. As they fly past the area Max and Mia see a cross. The pilot tells them that some say the ghost of the dead girl haunts the Black Ridge and kills tourists.
With this rather good setup in place, the film proceeds to go downhill rapidly (pun intended). Max and Mia are attacked by a black clad rider on a snowmobile (they have failed to notice a hand sticking out of the snow while boarding past it). Mia recovers to find Max missing; she catches up with him only to see him being towed away by the snowmobile. The driver then lets off a small bomb which causes an avalanche, in which Mia gets trapped. And thus the movie sheds itself of anything approaching the supernatural and becomes a lame slasher movie crossed with a survival story, a sub genre very popular last decade, you may recall.
Let it Snow is set in and around the ski resort of Gudauri in Georgia (an actual place, so perhaps not the greatest bit of advertising for it). As you might expect, the scenery is stunning, and photographed beautifully. But many of the action scenes are confusingly shot and often very brief, making the film feel bitty. There some very good individual scenes, and Sakhno is put through her paces to quite a gruelling extent, but as a whole Let it Snow is a terrible mess, and most will be able to spot its final reveal coming from a very early point. A fairly shaky feature debut from Kapralov; his intentions may be good, but his execution is very far from it.