Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Rebecca Matthews. Starring Patrick Bergin, Julie Stevens, Andy Dixon, May Kelly, Beatrice Fletcher.
Horror, USA, 86 mins.


Released in the UK on digital platforms on 12th December 2022


THE Christmas horror movie has been a thing for years now, with classics such as SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and NEW YEAR’S EVIL, along with more modern takes like SECRET SANTA and KRAMPUS, proving to be popular amongst fans. NUTCRACKER MASSACRE is 2022s entry into the seasonal slasher canon, and despite having a provocative title that conjures up images of a bloodbath committed by a nutcracking implement, the end result is nothing short of tedium on an exemplary level.


The idea of a possessed nutcracker – not the metal handheld type but the soldier-with-the-big-mouth-operated-by-a-hinge-on-their-back type that you see everywhere this time of year – is actually quite an interesting one as it hasn’t been done before, at least not an entire movie dedicated to the premise, and even the tiny ones are quite creepy looking so imagine a full-size one coming at you with gnashing teeth and murderous intent. The thing is, you can only imagine it because, after a promising intro scene where a delivery driver gets an icicle through the jaw, NUTCRACKER MASSACRE drops off a cliff edge never to return as the bulk of the movie is made up by a dull family drama full of uninteresting and unlikeable characters (and that word is used very loosely), all played by what appears to be understudies from the local am-dram group.


Okay, there is one recognisable face in Patrick Bergin, whom you may remember from such blockbuster hits as SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, ROBIN HOOD and PATRIOT GAMES. Quite what he is doing here is anyone’s guess, but those winter heating bills won’t pay themselves. Anyway, Bergin plays a toymaker with an accent that wobbles somewhere between generic Eastern European and possibly South African – it is hard to tell – and his role is really to give exposition to our main character Clara (Beatrice Fletcher) about the history of nutcrackers, and specifically the six-feet-tall one her aunt Marie (Julie Stevens) has in her home who has gone missing, along with some house guests who probably just wanted to leave and go somewhere more exciting, like re-negotiate with their agents. The toymaker spins a yarn about the spirit of a dead German soldier possessing it and everything falls into place for the terminally dull Clara and her cheating boyfriend Paul (Andy Dixon), who are investigating the disappearance of Clara’s bitchy cousin’s boyfriend, or something.  It is hard to keep track of what is going on for what really should have been a simple Christmas slasher, but every time one of the actors opens their mouths to speak you may find your attention wandering elsewhere.


So aside from the – and this cannot be stressed enough – terrible performances, thinly written characters and a script that has far too much talking and not enough massacring, NUTCRACKER MASSACRE’s biggest flaw is the decision to make it all very serious. The opening scene hints at some LEPRECHAUN-style mischief, and when it comes down to it this is supposed to be about a possessed nutcracker going on a killing spree so it’s hardly THE GODFATHER, but then someone decided to try and take a more HALLOWEEN-esque approach and tone down the fun, as well as the gore. Trouble is, that approach worked for HALLOWEEN because it had a competent cast and crew behind it, whereas here the opposite approach was needed by turning everything up to eleven and just having a laugh with it. There is a kill involving the removal of a scrotum with a set of metal nutcrackers – flimsily set up by a character sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to crack some walnuts, because that is what people do apparently – and the only humour derived from it is the fact that somebody signed off on that prosthetic.


The best thing you can say about NUTCRACKER MASSACRE is that Julie Stevens gives a spirited performance, but she does seem to be in a completely different movie from everyone else, which is probably the best place to be because the world that these characters inhabit is a bland, uninspiring and virtually bloodless mess. Do yourselves a favour and leave this one under the tree, as there is no seasonal joy to be had here.


Chris Ward.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans