By: Addison Wylie
Secret Santa has been made to entertain, and entertain it does.
Mikey McMurran’s horror throwback pays homage to an era where slasher films ruled exploitation cinema. There was an unlimited supply of blood, actors camped it up, and synthesizer stings sliced through any scene with a hooded figure. If you’re looking for visual and audio cues in a surface-deep tribute, you’ll be satisfied by the Cambridge native’s low budget lark. Secret Santa looks and sounds the part, which will create giddiness amongst the audience.
I have to admit though, I was usually laughing at Secret Santa rather than with it. When I say something horrible and critic-y like that, what I mean is that the film finds natural ways to be funny without realizing it. There are written jokes in McMurran’s screenplay, but most of those are too obvious to be comical. The po-faced readings of fear are when the laughs happen. Mind you, it’s sometimes hard to tell where the line is drawn between what the filmmaker has done on purpose and what the production has done by accident, but either way the audience is having fun. I don’t necessarily see this as an insult because I believe that’s the point to Secret Santa – for everyone to bust a gut and smile in bafflement on their way out of the theatre.
The production suffers from technical inconsistencies that give the film a presentation that’s exceedingly rough around the edges. However, it helps that McMurran, his cast, and his crew are embracing these lo-fi qualities of Secret Santa. The filmmaker is certainly making the best out of his modest Kickstarter campaign, and while all of the moves don’t entirely earn our forgiveness, we appreciate the efforts.
Blood is spilt, body parts are severed, girls traipse around in towels, classmates are hooking up, murder weapons are given as gifts, all while a bald French Stewart lookalike fumbles around in an hackneyed manner. I had a ball watching Secret Santa. I chuckled, I winced, and I groaned. I’m sure this feedback will make Mikey McMurran happy as a clam.
Secret Santa screens at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival on:
Saturday, November 28 at 6:30 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
Saturday, November 28 at 11:59 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
For more information on the festival, visit the official BITS webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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