College life is often peppered with drama, drinking, and other hijinks, especially before the Christmas break. However, when a sadistic killer is added to the mix, a group of friends find that cheating on exams and each other are the least of their worries.
In Mikey McMurran’s Secret Santa, two college lovebirds, Nicole (Annette Wozniak) and Bryan (Brent Baird), and their friends – Dwayne (Geoff Almond) the slacker, Carissa (Keegan Chambers) the party girl, and Olivia (Nicole Kawalez) the anal-retentive ditz – decide to have a Secret Santa party to celebrate the end of exams. Things get dicey for the group when a killer crashes their party. Leaving Christmas wrapped murder weapons for the unsuspecting victims; the deadly assailant has every intention of ruining their holiday spirit.
Funded by an Indiegogo campaign and shot in Cambridge Ontario, Secret Santa is all about the gags. This tongue-in-cheek B-movie is full of “ba-dum-dum” drum roll laughs, some of which fall like a sack of potatoes, but you’d have to be a real stickler to be upset over those duds. At times McMurran’s first feature comes off a bit too rough around the edges, but it is filled with all the slasher tropes you could ever want: pretty college girls, a shower scene, gratuitous gore, and a cheesy but enjoyable 80’s synth soundtrack by Andre Becker to punctuate all the murderous mayhem. The film harkens back to low-budget horrors like Black Christmas and Maniac, but with Secret Santa, you get a whole lot of hokey that may induce eye-rolls. The practical effects were schlocky, over exaggerated and fun; consistent with the era the film pays homage to.
I have to admit I enjoyed each kill scene as the slasher made short work of the doomed college co-eds. There’s nothing like a close-up of a bloody eyeball to get the horror party started right. Secret Santa was clearly made for horror fans with fun in mind. So put on your ugliest Christmas sweater, grab some nog, and hunker down for a slasher comedy homage that delivers a schlocky good time.
Saturday, November 28, 11:59 PM, Carlton Cinemas
Tickets can be purchased at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival website.