By: Trevor Chartrand
Goofy and upbeat, Letters to Satan Claus is a comical send-up of Hallmark holiday movies…with a slasher twist. While it’s never laugh-out-loud funny, this film has a satirical edge that makes for an effective parody of holiday movies.
Now this film’s title is no typo, with a story that revolves around a young girl’s spelling error in her letter to Santa. After accidentally addressing her wish list to Satan, she unleashes the beast’s fury upon her family. Years later, a grown-up Holly Frost (Karen Knox) returns to her hometown of Ornaments (a Christmas-obsessed community), where she checks all the boxes of typical holiday film tropes: she reconnects with an old flame, rediscovers her love of the season, and realizes the true value of family…all while duelling with the devil.
This script penned by Michael Zara features a lot of fun wordplay, and undoubtedly was a blast to write. A highlight is the ridiculous Christmas names every citizen of Ornaments has, including ‘Joy Wreath,’ ‘Cookie Winters,’ and ‘Chris Pringle,’ to name a few. There’s plenty of subtle Christmas-isms like these throughout the film. While jokes like these do work well in the context of this movie, I have a feeling they played better on paper than in their ultimate execution.
The horror sequences in the film tend to be on the sillier side as well, leaning into the comedy and playing more as parody than any kind of serious slasher. This approach makes sense with the self-aware tone Letters to Satan Claus is going for; most of the movie essentially boils down to a series of winks and nudges directed towards the audience. The Satan costume is rubbery and goofy, and actor Jana Peck voices Beelzebub with a jovial, animated inflection that almost sounds friendly. Peculiar choices like these are littered throughout the movie, and clearly reflect the absurdity of the filmmaker’s intentions – making the movie off-the-wall entertaining and highly unpredictable.
Overall, Letters to Satan Claus is an easily digestible Christmas parody that surprisingly, might just get you into the spirit of the holiday. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, gory slasher-comedy that turns the premise of most corny Christmas specials upside-down. The jokes may not always land, but the cast and crew have made a film here that’s fun to watch and, I suspect, was likely a lot of fun to make.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor