‘The Nights Before Christmas’ Review: Dir. Paul Tanter [Alternative Christmas]

In the run-up to Christmas, an FBI task force is issued the job of tracking down and stopping a couple of serial killers. The deranged duo escaped from an insane asylum a number of years earlier, and whilst many had thought / hoped that the pair were gone for good, they’ve just been biding their time. Assuming the personas of Santa Claus (Simon Phillips) and Mrs Clause (Sayla de Goede), the couple have started murdering their way through their own very special naughty and nice list. As Christmas day draws closer, the FBI finds themselves in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Can they stop the killers before they reach their endgame?

The Nights Before Christmas opens with a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie film, echoing the likes of both The Devil’s Rejects and 3 From Hell. What follows is a valiant attempt to replicate the Zombie brand, but one that doesn’t quite manage to be as convincing. Some of that fault lies with our serial killer characters, they lack the Firefly family complexity. Mrs Claus is portrayed purely as a Christmassy Harley Quinn type. Santa himself relies on his physicality, and sounds like a super gruff Phil Mitchell. Both are fine, but skew too close to cliché to be anything more than disposable bad guys. 

As with many slashers before it, the plot on display here is a little thin and flimsy. It barely holds up from scene to scene, with new characters being introduced, or old ones cast aside, from one to the next. This of course makes it hard to track who everyone is and how they fit in together. There’s an infuriating over-mentioning of the Claus’ list. Our lead FBI agent discovers an interesting fact about the list and proceeds to tell, what feels like, everybody she’s ever met. Each time she mentions it however, the line is delivered in such a way that it sounds as if the idea has only just occurred to her in that moment. The deaths are standard slasher fare, with a couple of exceptions that demonstrate that the pair might just have some cunning hiding beneath their yuletide anarchy after all.

Although a slasher that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, The Nights Before Christmas does generate enough interest to warrant at least one dash through the snow. An easy breezy slasher film that tries to follow the Rob Zombie formula, but ultimately remains a little pedestrian. Much like Christmas itself, The Nights Before Christmas is fun for a little while, but before long, you just want to pack it all away again. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Nights Before Christmas is available now.

The review first appeared on THN.