The Nights Before Christmas (2019)
Director (and co-writer): Paul Tanter
Cast: Simon Phillips, Sayla de Goede, Keegan Chambers, Meredith Heinrich, Jennifer Willis, Kate Schroder, Michael Coughlan, Anne-Carolyne Binette
The Nights Before Christmas is the sequel of 2017’s Once Upon a Time at Christmas. I have never seen the first movie so there is no comparison or expectations going into this one. Alternate Christmas movies are always a welcome a sight and choosing psycho killers who call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Claus is a pretty decent angle to take. There are some very obvious choices here that feel familiar like Mrs. Claus channels a lot of a character like Harley Quinn. There are some scenes that remind of movies like Silence of the Lamb between Clarice and Hannibal Lecter. And then there are elements that fall in the path a little like Halloween with Loomis. Less refined versions of it. There are some good and some bad in The Nights Before Christmas and it applies to almost every aspect of the film which leaves it less memorable than it probably could have been.
Let’s start with the positives. The villainous psycho killers are the definite positives here. Mr. Claus specifically, played by Simon Phillips is a wild character that truly takes the whole crazy killer to a whole new level. His character with his blind eye and even the first scene as she commits his crime in the asylum already shows off the type of killer that the story is about to embrace. There is some character in the film that makes a point about him being equal crazy and equal smart and that very well rounds up the character and adds a little more to the story as the unexpected plan comes into play and what his endgame is or even where it all starts. Mrs. Claus is similar to what Harley Quinn is to Joker, who pales a little to the greatness achieved by Mr. Claus. She has the unsettled character but never seems to command the scene the same way but because her character also is rather crazy, nothing really has to make too much sense. Other than that, the story and twists here are actually scripted relatively well especially when it concerns the scenes with Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the killing spree.
This horror film struggles with depth (as a lot of horror films do). Perhaps its the watching it from the second film where I’m going to give it some benefit of the doubt as this one does go back to the roots of where Mr. and Mrs. Claus seems to have started their killing spree after burning down the asylum and surprisingly, it links back to the Woodridge massacre of the previous film. How the timeline all works is something that is a bit fuzzy. Another issue is the script for everyone else is very flat and sometimes illogical or clunky. There are dialogues that don’t quite fit their role, especially for the rather unconvincing FBI special agent role. It leaves quite a lot to be desired in terms of depth to the character itself. While the survivors of the Woodridge Massacre do come into play here and try to build it back up to something intriguing, they don’t appear quite as often to save it and is supposed to have this twist element that doesn’t quite land as none of the characters seem to have enough depth to care about too much.
Its hard to truly give an accurate review of The Nights Before Christmas mostly because the first film may or may not add to the experience here. There’s a certain level of stand-alone to this one where the first movie is not required to understand the story of this one, but maybe it might help. The story is singular to this story. Dialogue is a really important element in a film and somehow its what broke the experience the majority of the time here. Luckily, the villains do glue this film together and gives it some entertainment value. I may come back to this review and further it after seeing the first one to complete the experience but for now, its a tad lacking.