‘He’s making a list… don’t be on it’
The Nights Before Christmas is 2019 British horror feature film about a murderous Santa and Mrs Claus playing a cat and mouse game with the FBI.
Directed by Paul Tanter (Age of the Living Dead series) from a screenplay co-written by Simon Phillips, the movie stars the latter alongside Sayla de Goede, Jennifer Willis and Keegan Chambers.
The movie is a sequel to Tanter’s Once Upon a Time at Christmas (2017).
When a series of murders in the run-up to Christmas are found to be linked, FBI Special Agent Natalie Parker is tasked with tracking a pair of psychotic serial killers. She soon discovers the couple are not only crazy, having met in and escaped from an asylum for the criminally insane, but have based their personas on Santa and Mrs Claus.
As Christmas approaches, they slaughter their way through their special naughty list, playing a cat and mouse game with the FBI and leaving a trail of bloody bodies in their wake…
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“At 104 minutes this is a tad too long and could probably have lost a few of the numerous times when Schroeder deduces “It’s an actual list.” Nevertheless, it’s good festive bloody fun with Phillips and de Goede hamming it up gleefully and plenty of production value onscreen.” British Horror Revival
100+ minutes is way too long for something that’s largely a repetitive series of slicing and dicing […] Like I said, I can’t really recommend the movie unless you want to see a killer Santa with a burned face, cataract eyeball, metal teeth, and British accent terrorize indie actors […] No matter what, I’m still impressed with what Paul Tanter and company put onscreen, even if much of it doesn’t deliver as intended.” Culture Crypt
“The acting ranges from solid to wooden, there is a fair amount of clunky dialogue and in true horror tradition, there are some truly atrocious decisions made by characters that should know better. Interestingly, none of these things bothered me in the slightest. Simon Phillips and Sayla de Goede’s double act as Santa and Mrs Claus is wildly entertaining, with the latter clearly inspired by DC’s Harley Quinn, and the best moments are when they’re on the screen.” Entertainment Focus
“The film is a balanced mix of gore and narrative with a plain plot to follow a killer with a list. The Claus’ are twisted and violent but those on the naughty list did have something coming. Nuggets about Nicholas’ life before the asylum are revealed along with the pairs’ ability to have compassion for those that did no wrong. If thematic horror is in your lane then The Nights Before Christmas is worth the watch.” Flick Hunter
“An odd storytelling choice — at least to me — is giving the villains a backstory that seemingly attempts to make them somewhat sympathetic, when they are otherwise portrayed as nothing more than crazed, savage killers. The direction is solid, the acting is fine, and gorehounds will find plenty to keep them engaged here.” Ghastly Grinning
“The film […] looks great and Tanter’s directing is exceptional. The film consistently looks like it has a far higher budget than it does and that is a testament to Tanter and cinematographers Jamie Bailey and Julian Garofalo. A fun slasher that has some great moments, The Nights Before Christmas will fulfil all your murderous Santa needs!” Haddonfield Horror
“This low-budget holiday slasher film is more confidently and competently made than most of its ilk, with bravura (if off-putting) performances and a sense of focus that could have been lacking elsewhere. When it’s at the top of its game, it’s gory, brutal and nasty. For the rest of it, however, it’s a bore and a dullard. Much like its repetitively yammering villains.” Horror DNA
“The relationship between Santa and Mrs. Clause was so unexpected and I’m always happy to see a female villain in the world of horror. Not only did the cop drama give The Nights Before Christmas a nostalgic feel, but doing it as a mock-sequel helped to skip all the “world-building” and get right to the good stuff.” Horror Society
“The silly slasher aspects (while occasionally very bloody) often feel like they’re pulling their punches, and the procedural sequences come across as an afterthought to get us back to the blood. Still, there is some fun to be had with The Nights Before Christmas – particularly when it revels in its own insanity – but I would recommend keeping your expectations in check.” In the Seats
“It runs a flabby hour and forty-five minutes, suffering from a villain who loves the sound of his own voice way more than any audience can be expected to – though it does spring a few extra plot complications in the home stretch.” The Kim Newman Web Site
“With his apparently random actions concealing a more deliberate and considered plan, Nick is essentially Joker in a Father Christmas costume – and on these dark (k)nights before Christmas, seductive, deadly Michelle is his Harley Quinn […] Corporate greed and neglect may, in the end, be confronted, but we keep being reminded that the ones doing the confronting are callous psychopaths as much as a victims, muddying the film’s moral waters and mixing its message.” Projected Figures
“Nicholas has plenty of one-liners for each of his kills, rather than come across as corny they do fit his demented persona. I can’t play down how much Phillips manages to elevate this movie. While it gets plenty dark in places there are some nice touches that keep things from getting too bleak. One of these was having a slasher that was combined with a police crime drama.” The Rotting Zombie
“The Nights Before Christmas is a generic as it gets slasher. There’s an attempt to justify some of the killings this time. But when the film starts with somebody dousing folk with gasoline and setting them on fire it’s hard to make them appear sympathetic later […] And as for Santa’s Harley Quinn wannabe partner, she’s neither scary nor sexy, just annoying. Annoying to the point of wishing the feds just dispensed with the law and shot her when they had the chance.” Voices from the Balcony
The Nights Before Christmas will be released on DVD and Digital platforms on 2nd November 2020 in the UK through Kaleidoscope Entertainment (pre-order via Amazon.co.uk) with a U.S, Australia and New Zealand release in December.
Cast and characters:
Simon Phillips … Santa Claus
Sayla de Goede … Mrs Claus
Jennifer Willis … Doctor Monica Mudd
Keegan Chambers … Courtney
Michael Coughlan … Jim Beaudin
Anne-Carolyne Binette … Becky
Kate Schroder … Agent Natalie Parker
Ken Bressers … FBI Agent
Meredith Heinrich … Lucy
Frederik Storm … FBI Agent
Shannon Cotter … Jennifer
Barry Kennedy … Mitchell
Ray Chiasson … Clayton
Eric de Niverville … Jonathan
Jonathan Largy … FBI Agent
Canada (January 2019)
Once upon a Time at Christmas 2 and Twice Upon a Time at Christmas