SCREAMBOX Exclusive Santastein comes alive on December 19. The festive twist on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein delivers Christmas cheer and slasher fear in equal measure.
You know a trope I have always hated because it makes zero sense?
The Christmas movie where all of the parents and adults think Santa does not exist, but it turns out he does. You have every adult in the world telling kids that Sana is just a myth, and they are all SHOCKED at the end when they see him!
I mean… who do these people think is bringing presents every year? They just wake up to their kids getting several gifts they did not buy, and they are okay with this? Where do they think they came from? It would be so easy to prove Santa is real! The presents are RIGHT THERE.
At some point, someone has to realize none of this makes any sense.
And yet, this is a ubiquitous holiday theme across several movies. It really gets my goat.
Which is why I always preferred movies that, while more child-targeted in nature, just assume Santa is real and everyone accepts it. It makes more sense, anyway.
A weird kind of cross between these two themes is the new Screambox original SantaStein, oddly enough. A movie which sees a child–Max, on of the main characters–seek to collect evidence of Santa’s existence. In doing so, he hilariously accidentally kills Santa, sending the world into mourning when the Christmas holiday dies out without its gift-bearing icon.
We actually get a news report to further the plot revealing it’s been 12 years since, as far as the world knows, Santa went missing and the holiday has become just another time of year.
What no one knows is that Max has kept Santas’s brain alive in a jar and has dedicated his life to finding a way to reanimate Father Christmas, even if that means stitching together stolen cadaver parts to make him a new body.
Of course, this leads to unintended consequences, as the SantaStein that returns is quite madand driven by bloodlust, yearning to massacre those he remembers as naughty… and anyone else that gets in his way.
TWO UPS AND TWO DOWNS
+There is a a genuine laugh out loud charm to some of the early proceedings here, as the first act of SantaStein is goofy enough to warrant several genuine laughs. The “Santa’s Brain” jar. The line from one popular girl to her boyfriend, “You’re so hot when you bully”. For a while as I chuckled away at the wonderfully silly moments, I thought I had found some hidden gem.
Unfortunately, after the first act where the movie is basically laugh-after-laugh-after-laugh, the joy becomes a bit more sporadic. There’s a scene where Paige, the other main protagonist, meets up with her grandmother who just so happens to have an ancient book on Santa where she reads a poem about how reanimated Kris Kringle will come back evil. That whole concept is fun. But there’s not too much else.
+Speaking of concepts, while Christmas Horror has become much more of a thing in recent decades, the idea of a Santa Claus / Frankenstein mash-up is highly original. We get callbacks to the classic Frankenstein tales, including Santa coming across a small girl and murdering her when she doesn’t quite get him.
We’ve seen Krampus. Evil Santa robots. Slashers about Christmas time. But a Frankensteined together dead Claus? That’s a new one!
-I’m going to forgive a few aspects of the movie’s poor quality since it is a very low budget indie flick, and those aspects are part of the charm. The acting isn’t great, the direction is mediocre, and the like, you know? But that said, boy the lighting in this was rough.
Remember all of the complaints about the last season of Game Of Thrones? That’s what I felt like for chunks of SantaStein. I was struggling to tell what was going on on my screen. I know the scenes were taking place in the dark, but most movies have the decency to still use some lighting so the viewer can see the action. SantaStein just left me squinting and trying to make it out.
-Similarly, another one of the lower quality aspects I couldn’t get past was the audio quality. While it’s perfectly fine at times, at others, it’s muffled and really needed to be ADR’ed. Which, I get, is a pain and can make the visuals look off, but it’s sometimes a necessity.
I will say I don’t think it was ever to the point where I couldn’t understand the characters, but especially during the house party sequences, the quality definitely dipped.
SantaStein starts off as a campy riot that had me rolling for the first half hour or so, but then it loses a bit of its goofy charm when it just becomes a lower budget slasher. It’s still worth a watch for some neat kills and the charm of the concept, but ultimately… I mean, it’s just a low budget effort, and that shows.