You can basically blame capitalism for our detour from the cheery Christmas path we’d planned for December. That, or the even more powerful forces behind the Hallmark Channel’s vice-like grip on its new seasonal content. With limited options streaming for the week, we’ve retreated to the familiar territory of holiday horror…though this route is still leading us through some unexpected twists.
As a group of friends gather for Christmas, a secret threatens to cut the festivities–and even their lives–short.
Things are looking festive all-round as Nell and Simon host their annual Christmas dinner for a group of childhood friends. Enjoying the holidays surrounded by the comforts of a large country estate certainly can’t hurt. However, as posh people who have known each other for a long time, it seems like a safe bet that secrets will surface and drama will erupt.
The children aren’t an exception, and Nell and Simon’s boys are less than thrilled to reunite with Kitty, spoiled only child of couple Sandra and Tony. Very much a daddy’s girl used to getting her own way, Kitty has a rather strained relationship with her mother.
Also in attendance are Bella and her sober girlfriend Alex, as well as oncologist James and his significantly younger (and pregnant) girlfriend, Sophie. Sandra, now married to kind but boring Tony, is transparently in love with James and resents the hell out of Sophie.
As the day goes on, it becomes increasingly obvious that something terrible lurks beneath the pasted-on grins of the attendees. Over-emphasizing the evening’s importance for love and forgiveness, Nell maintains a smile even when serving one single potato to each guest.
Sophie earns no favors when she lets the cat out of the bag in front of the children, revealing that the main event that night will not be Christmas itself, but a mass suicide. After years of destroying the Earth’s atmosphere, humans have inadvertently created a massive cloud of poison gas that is set to roll through the English countryside…right about now. The UK government’s solution? Provide as many of its citizens as possible with suicide pills to avoid the agony of a slow, painful death.
As the evening wears on, Nell and Simon’s eldest son Art becomes more and more determined to avoid taking the pill, as he believes there may still be hope. Similarly, Sophie cannot accept that her baby won’t even have a chance to live, and expresses her own reluctance to voluntarily end her life.
Will anyone in the house (or the world) manage to make it past Christmas?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Oooof, I haven’t been this emotionally devastated by a film ostensibly about Christmas since the WWI-set Joyeux Noel. I suppose there’s no reason to avoid the topic of climate change in Christmas horror…but does it have to be so bleak?
And I am willing to personally fight any and all members of the marketing team for this movie. We were promised a darkly funny Christmas murder fest, and there was no joy whatsoever to be found in the film we got.
There’s a bit of humor to be found in the abysmal (and quite accurate) global response to climate change (and having a fucking app for a mass suicide plan), as well as the adults’ emphasis on the whole situation not being their fault. But mostly all of this is far too real to do anything but further spiral down the rabbit hole of climate anxiety.
I’ll credit the cast here, as well as the festive Christmas ambience…that exists largely as a stark contrast to the horror outside. Overall, though, I couldn’t particularly enjoy this one, and I’d much rather a serial killer dressed as Santa any day of the week.