I’ll be honest with you guys up front: I hate Christmas movies. With a burning passion.
This is partially because I’m just innately a Grinch of pre-ghost Scroogean proportions. Sure, I’ll stomach a Christmas tree in the house and a few odd strands of twinkling lights, but I’ve never been one to really give myself fully to the holiday spirit. No ugly sweaters, no wreaths or mistletoe, and certainly no carols. As a distinctly non-religious person, I obviously have no real affinity for the “reason for the season,” as it were, and any other connotations that go along with the holly-jolly festivities are largely lost on me in the wake of the capitalistic nightmare that it’s become over the years.
In short, bah-humbug.
But it’s more than just my general lack of Christmas cheer that makes me recoil in disgust whenever ABC Family begins their endless stream of festive filmic garbage at the stroke of midnight on December 1st: It’s the fact that I genuinely, truly believe that most Christmas movies are objectively terrible. Tortuous, even. Take away the novelty of the yuletide setting, and all you’re left with are hollow cash-grabs and emotionally-manipulative, overly-saccharine snooze-fests intended to exploit the holiday for as much box-office revenue as possible. They’re usually cheaply made, horrendously-acted, and, with few exceptions, made to be consumed with about as much critical thought as your standard Vin Diesel action vehicle.
In my experience, the only truly great Christmas movies are the ones that are simply holiday-adjacent, like Home Alone and Gremlins (and the requisite “It’s technically a Christmas movie” inclusion, Die Hard). These are movies that work even when stripped of their decked-hall set dressings, whose inclusion of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year are surface-deep at best. Everything else is just honest-to-God awful.
Except for the old Rankin/Bass stop motion films. Those are great. I’m not a complete monster.
And yet, there’s one thing about Christmas movies that I well and truly love, something that doesn’t get brought up nearly as much as it should be: Almost all of them are completely and utterly terrifying.
Picture your favorite Christmas movie in your minds eye. If it has anything to do with Santa, elves, reindeer, miracles, or angels, it’s a straight-up horror movie. Think about it. Seriously, think about it. These movies have some absolutely nightmarish implications just lurking below the surface, just waiting to be unearthed by some snarky, contrarian keyboard warrior with nothing better to do with his time.
….so, uh, me, I guess.
This month, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the season’s most beloved films, those movies that are embedded in our childhoods and fill our hearts with joy and wonder, and dissecting them straight to hell. No holiday favorite is safe, from It’s a Wonderful Life to The Santa Clause, we’re going to explore why these joyous symbols of warmth and goodness are secretly worse than anything you watched in October. I’m going to show you why you shouldn’t be afraid of monsters, ghosts, and zombies: You should be scared of Saint Nick and Rudolph.
So join me, all month long, as I ruin Christmas for my own sick amusement!
And for those of you who observe Hannukah, I’m sorry, but all you’ve got is 8 Crazy Nights with Adam Sandler, and you don’t need me to tell you why that’s horrific.