Winter in Norway, and over a decade ago the land was afflicted by the murders of a mysterious serial killer who dressed as Santa Claus and made it his business to travel up and down the country slaughtering everyone he had on his list, a list that nobody could understand the reasoning for, the sole link being that each of the deceased had broken the law in some manner. Fortunately, he was brought to justice before his spree could get even worse, though he still managed to kill over a hundred people he apparently believed were less than innocent, and locked up in a maximum security prison cell. At least, they thought it was maximum security - but he has just escaped.
A strange thing started to happen to Father Christmas in the world of the movies, something comparable to how clowns saw their public profile changed from that of innocent bringers of fun and games to murdering psychopaths itching to massacre every decent human around. Starting, more or less, with a segment of the British horror Tales from the Crypt, the idea of a sinister Santa began to, um, snowball, and after Silent Night Deadly Night which had as its villain a maniac dressed in the appropriate outfit, the notion of that jolly fat chap giving presents to the kiddies started to be supplanted as that of a dangerous lunatic, sometimes supernatural, taking hold in the collective consciousness.
By the point this Norwegian entry arrived with its Michael Myers recast as Saint Nick bad guy, the killer Santa was par for the course in a seasonal horror movie, so much so that what had caused outrage back in the eighties barely batted any eyelids of the moralists - nobody spoke up for the clowns, and now nobody was speaking up for Santa as the idea of him as a villain was growing more popular than the idea of him as a benevolent force for the spirit of the festive season. Perhaps the reason this was sneaking up on the culture was that it was most prevalent in the lower budget end of the moviemaking scale, and Christmas Blood, or Juleblod as it was originally known, was part of that.
The plot was almost insultingly simple, but it was a slasher and their narratives did not need to be especially complex, certainly if they were not going the whodunit route which director and writer Reinert Kiil was assuredly not. His heavy merely showed up in town, bumped off his targets and moved onto the next one, his motives revealed at the halfway mark and skirting too close to parody to really satisfy. Indeed, there was a sense of send-up never far away - not only of Yuletide, but of the Scandi-Noir genre that had so dominated thrillers in pageturning books and dour crime serials on television. With a few tweaks, this could have easily be turned into a Norwegian miniseries on the small screen, had they toned down the language and beefed up the psychological elements sufficiently.
As it was, we were served up a bunch of barely characterised young ladies and two or three gentlemen, except they were not very ladylike or gentlemanly, a crude bunch in the main which made them difficult to warm to, aptly for a film that took place in the freezing cold for much of its running time. The cinematography had been set to moody, but at too many times it might have been accidentally left on impenetrable as the murk of the twenty-four-hour night was so thick you would find some of this playing out in pitch darkness, or at most with a fairy light to illuminate inadequately. It didn't entirely stick to the slasher rules even if it was a riff on John Carpenter's Halloween, so there was no real final girl, the cast too cluttered to settle on anyone who was truly up to the task, yet since there was no chance of the evil being overcome by this set of mediocrities, the whole affair had a pointless tone. Being charitable, you could say its anti-Christmas cheer was deeply felt. Deep and crisp and even, even. Music by Kim Berg.