Ginger Nuts of Horror
By Stewart Horn
An abortion clinic is attacked by Christian extremists; doctors are murdered and, impossibly, an aborted fetus is rescued.
Twenty years later a family gather for a traditional Christmas, but there are divisions and tensions within the family - some of them obviously don't want to be there and it's uncomfortable even before it all goes crazy.
The matriarch wants a happy final Christmas together before she sells the family home and sets off for a jolly round the world, but her kids think she's abandoning them and spending their inheritance. The eldest sister is very prim and married to a clergyman, who seems the equally uptight but spies on another couple having sex then retires to a wardrobe for ahem... privacy. The other sister is heavily pregnant but still drinks, smokes pot and manages a lively sexual encounter with her partner. The youngest son seems the most normal despite having downs syndrome, and the elderly grandfather self-medicates with marijuana.
A stranger (whom we have already seen kill a neighbour) knocks on the door and the family invite him in, but when he starts spouting extreme religious views they throw him out again. The family settle down to dinner but the old resentments still seethe. It's almost a relief when the hooded stranger starts killing them.
As an exploration of family dynamics, this is cleverly observed, unflinching and cruel. The family continue to bicker even as their numbers dwindle, and nobody is portrayed as wholly sympathetic. The little mind games they play with each other are horrible. There is an odd contrast between the well crafted subtlety of these moments and the violence, which is grand guignol played for laughs. The scene with the kitchen blender could have been lifted from an early Peter Jackson film.
We've all had family occasions like this, when we offer a silent prayer that an axe-wielding madman will come in and kill us all so we don't have to suffer our terrible families for another moment. I can't think of a film that has captured that feeling better than this one. Excellent festive fayre.