In this 2012 remake of the original film, Santa has something he was missing in the first film. A freaking flame thrower.
The film opens right away with Santa killing an adulterous couple. He then shows up at the front door of a greedy little snot and kills her. Yeah, we see the killer off a kid in the first ten minutes or so. Jaime King is a deputy in a small town with about one hundred Santas, so you know it is going to be hard to find the one in the creepy mask killing people.
This film is largely about the kills. The original has it’s cult following for some of it’s kills (including using deer antlers-repeated in this film). But here they are far more elaborate, and bloody. Fargo’s wood chipper has nothing on this film. And a flame thrower. Santa has a flame thrower.
Unlike the original, this film opts for a mystery. We are not given the killer’s identity right from the start. We do not know his or her motive. And this is one of the more effective parts of this remake. A lack of discernible intent often makes for an effectively unnerving movie monster.
The cast here is pretty decent. Malcolm McDowell turns in a performance that admittedly is more about it being Malcolm McDowell. King is dependably sympathetic. Donal Logue is pretty entertaining as a lazy Santa who tells kids stuff like their parents might sell their gifts on Ebay and that you cannot trust parents.
One area where the film follows the original is a general undercurrent of sleaze. McDowell’s police chief even wonders just when the town got so sleazy. In place of mean nuns, there is a lascivious pastor. He seems like a creep from the get go when he tells King’s deputy that he will do anything to help her. There is a local porn industry, drug users, adulterers. Sometimes this works in the film…other times it feels like a cheap excuse for nudity
In certain respects, this is a far better film than the original or it’s sequels. But that is what they call damning with faint praise. The positives are about even with the negatives, and that is not enough to make a film worth the time to watch.