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ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS (2017)

Directed by Paul Tanter
Written by Christopher Jolley, Simon Phillips, Paul Tanter
Starring Jeff Ellenberger, Barry Kennedy, David E Lee, Susannah Mackay, Brook Fletcher, Robert Nolan, Laurel Brady, Devon Mary Doherty, Christopher Tanych, Blue Bigwood-Mallin, Amy Tremblay, Burton Matchett, Geoff Gamble, Lori Matchett, Laura Darby, Isabelle Desnoyers, Eric Welch, Sayla de Goede as Mrs. Claus & Simon Phillips as Santa Claus!
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Celebrate the holiday with a predictable and contrived, yet gory and fun little murder spree called ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS.



A pair of lunatics go on a murder spree in a small town. One of them a laughing berserker with an axe dressed as Santa Claus. The other is a bouncy moll with a baseball bat who answers to Mrs. Claus. As the bumbling cops try to make sense of their rampage and remaining one step behind them as the death toll rises, the trail leads to one young gal with a secret connection with the murderers.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS is a flighty, yet fun little murder romp with giggling killers and expansive set pieces. If you’re looking for ghoulish holiday fun, this one has a whole lot of it. The action here is pretty potent and while there isn’t a lot to jump and be scared about, there is an awful lot of Christmas ultra-violence as Santa and Mrs. Claus enact their rampage upon the small town. There are home invasions, public attacks, and mass killings going on here and while I won’t reveal their motif, it is pretty obvious pretty early on the method to these killer’s madness.


I think that’s the most frustrating thing about ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS though. It is blatantly obvious what the pattern is, but the numbskull cops are so slow to pick up on it that you end up having forehead bruises at all of the headslapping dullard-ness going on. The biggest fault of this film is thinking that the audience is so dumb that they aren’t going to piece it together. Or maybe it’s just one of those altruistic films that WANT the viewer to get the MO of the killers before the cops in hopes to make them feel better. Either way, there’s some dumb detective work going on here and it really does deter the effectiveness of the mystery. On top of that, how the killers are involved with the final girl is another contrivance that just seems goofy.

But in the end, it’s that goofiness that makes ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS so endearing. The killers are giggling maniacs straight out of a Batman comic with Mrs. Claus such a dead ringer for Harley Quinn that it’s almost copyright infringement. With the comical detective work by the cops and the broad mystery of the killings ties to one another, one would expect a caped crusader to burst in to stop the madness in the final reel. The ending of the film is problematic as it really isn’t an ending at all. As a sequel seems to already be in the works, ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS doesn’t necessarily wrap up, as it rather simply ends this chapter with a sort of cliffhanger-esque finale. This once again supports the serial/comic book aspect of the film that is prevalent in the entire film. Still, the comic book storytelling is one of the most entertaining aspects of the factors and if you’re looking for dumb fun, ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS is something you might want to put on your Christmas list as long as you’re looking for simple thrills and a mystery that won’t challenge you too much.




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