A group of kids find a woman dressed as Santa in a pit in the woods. When they find out that she is a bank robber, they keep her in the hole and force her to reveal where the money is hidden. When she finally escapes, the woman returns for revenge.
Directed by – Paco Plaza
Written by – Luis Berdejo
Starring – Maru Valdivielso, Christian Casas, Roger Babia, Pau Poch, Daniel Casadella, Ivana Baguero, Elsa Pataky, Jose Trija, Loquillo, Sauri, Nacho Moline, Antonio Duque
Now this is the kind of review that readers have probably come to expect from The Film Reel, a Christmas covered in blood! Last year that was all I did for the holiday season so I kind of ran out of bloody holiday classics. Thankfully I finally found The Christmas Tale, part of the 6 Films To Keep You Awake series. Directed by Paco Plaza, half of the [REC] directing team, The Christmas Tale is a great combination of the holidays and zombies. As a made for TV movie it isn’t exactly the most bloody film but it’s a lot like a good campfire story complete with a nice little twist at the end.
The plot is pretty simple. Some kids find a woman dressed as Santa in a deep hole in the woods and go to the police to help her. While at the police station the kids realize that she is a wanted criminal and that she robbed a bank. Now they decide to keep the woman in the hole until she reveals where she hid the money. Two of the kids are obsessed with a zombie film called Zombie Invasion which involves voodoo. The two kids perform a ritual on the woman without much luck. When the woman finally gives up the money the kids argue over whether to let her go or not. When they finally decide to set her free they find that she has died. They bring the police to the hole to get the reward for finding the criminal but they find the hole empty. The woman has come back from the dead to seek revenge on her captors.
The film is entirely from the kids point of view and except for the woman in the hole you never see any adults faces. The camera angle is always too low to show their heads or placed just behind something to hide the faces of the adults. It’s an interesting little trick that makes the adults seem like unreal characters. There’s also an obvious naivety to the film. The kids think they’ve created a zombie because they saw it in a movie but is that what’s really happened?
You’ll have to question whether the kids are right and the woman is a zombie or if it’s the more obvious solution that she’s finally escaped from the hole in the woods. It doesn’t matter either way as the woman starts stalking the kids, dragging an ax with her the whole time. Maru Valdivielso as Rebeca, the woman in the hole, does a great job. When she finally escapes the pit she shambles after the kids, grunting and yelling and dragging her leg behind her like any zombie you would see in a movie but there’s never any concrete proof that she is a zombie. I wound up feeling bad for her after a while. Here’s these kids that have her trapped in a hole and she slowly starts to lose her mind. She’s upset and crying and you honestly start to feel really terrible for her even though she’s a hardened criminal.
Once Rebeca drags herself out of the hole though the only thing you’ll be feeling is fear. She’s a creepy villain alright and it’s pure primal aggression as she hunts down the kids that kept her trapped for days on end. The kids are chased into a local amusement park that’s been closed down (I feel a Scooby Doo reference coming here) and they decide that they must stop the zombie Santa by any means. There’s a great little twist at the end that really turns the tale into one of those campfire stories. It’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen of course and it’s not a surprise but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.
Once you’ve had your fill of the mushy, sappy holiday classics I suggest you turn your attention to The Christmas Tale. It’s a great addition to any horror fans regular Christmas viewing although I wouldn’t suggest it for the kiddies!
Under the marquee – Will