Summer is still far from over but, fear not, this low-budget horror isn’t going to get you into a premature festive mood. In fact, apart from a few lights and a couple of tunes there’s nothing to suggest Yuletide at all. What we do get however, is something genuinely scary.
Which may be hard to believe, given that it’s no mean feat to achieve this these days, especially when you’re on a low budget, but 12 Deaths of Christmas manages to build suspense and create shock value. Having said that, it would have been even better if the main protagonist had shown up a little later than half an hour in, leaving us on a knife-edge for an extra ten minutes or so.
The protagonist in question just happens to be a witch who has been brought about by a curse that was placed upon a small village community in deepest, darkest Essex 25 years ago. Known as Frau Perchta (the myth of whom this story is based upon), she’s out to wreak vengeance on them and their children and has some pretty nasty ways of executing her plan. This is where things do fall down a little; yes, the acting isn’t the best, but then we never expected it to be top-drawer (although the cast do a credible job). However, the gore factor borders on gratuitous after a while, as each novel method of execution tries to outdo the last one. The authenticity created by the direction, effects and make-up rescue this to a certain extent though, bringing that old-fashioned menace that was a hallmark of Hammer Horror.
Or maybe that’s just me… no, hold that thought, it’s definitely not. Whatever, fright fans will lap it up just as they will by 12 Deaths of Christmas being a kind of patchwork of all manner of movies from the genre – Scream, Saw, The Scarecrow, they’re all on show at some point. Although it oozes cheesiness, there are two very famous quotes from two very famous films parodied as well, which should raise a smile… I’ll say no more.
This is unlikely to leave all but the biggest horror devotees blown away, but as it manages to punch above its weight it’s worth giving a go at any time of the year.