Rare Exports Dutch filmmaker Dick Maas brings a less subtle tale of Saint Nick gone bad. And in this case we're talking zombie Pirates of the Caribbean mad dog killer bad. I didn't find it quite as compelling as Rare Exports but interesting enough to enjoy as a straight slasher film with some Christmas spirit. I'm not actually a big fan of that genre (I mean the slasher genre - the slasher Santa genre of course is awesome) so I wasn't especially turned off by the limited scares that might be a negative for hardcore fans.
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the trailer which seemed to mix humor with ultra-violence. As it turns out the film mostly plays things straight. Meaning a fair amount of low budget gore and considerably more decapitations than Miracle on 34th Street (at least the original - have no clue what effing goes on in the 1994 version). That said there are small bits of comic relief in the mix. Some of them seem to be decidedly local in jokes- but it's super fun at a meta level to analyze while watching how folks from the Netherlands approach this Hollywood staple for home audiences.
In terms of a European take on this sort of film interestingly enough they tone down the nudity. Which I wouldn't have expected. Especially as the opening scene involving gift giving wherein the professor notes they'd set a new record of 4 simulated phalluses being exchanged that year. If that nudity comments sounds suspiciously like a complaint - well it sort of is. It's not a fatal flaw - but perhaps something to consider for the sequel...
Ah - so you want to know more about the story? There's a rogue undead bishop from hundreds of years ago who has the nasty habit of terrorizing Amsterdam via wholesale slaughter every 28 years or so on December 5th. He and his minions come down the chimney and kill the family and snatch up any children they can find. The youngsters are then spirited off to Spain - for reasons never explained (though leading to one of the funniest lines by a police office who worries out loud about the international politics between the Netherlands and Spain when they try to take out Santa). These massacres are then covered up by the authorities with the assistance of the Catholic Church who has enough scandals to deal with without some zombie ex priest in the news.
Onto this backstory the filmmakers graft what seems like a familiar cast of young adult characters. Some will die, one will fight the supernatural evil with a grizzled cop whose colleagues think he's crazy (no, not played by Mel Gibson) while an adorable girlfriend will worry on the sidelines. Most of the characters perform their duties well, and I particularly liked the young lead couple. The end is suitably dark, though the final climax could possibly have been more satisfying. Notwithstanding my comment earlier about lack of thrills the film did have me jump a few times. Serious horror fans likely won't be taken in that way - but overall I think it's a nice break from more serious dramatic film - either during a film festival or on a Friday night. Especially if you're in the mood for a decapitation or two. And we all have those nights, right?