Director Chris Peckover's film is a twisty, bloody riff on 'Home Alone'
The title of this yuletide-set horror-comedy gives an ominous edge to the lyrics of that old chestnut “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” But it also serves as a warning not to reveal too much about director/co-writer Chris Peckover’s tricksy film — a warning your reviewer intends to heed, lest he find himself on St. Nick’s “naughty list.”
Levi Miller stars as Luke, a 12-year-old who has the embarrassingly inappropriate hots for his babysitter (Olivia DeJonge). After Luke’s parents (Virginia Madsen and a deliciously weird Patrick Warburton) leave for a party, he sets about trying to woo his object of desire with a mix of champagne and horror movies. The terror, however, turns real when they find themselves the victims of a home invasion. The ensuing mayhem strongly suggests that Macaulay Culkin’s defense of his abode in the Home Alone films would have resulted in the violent deaths of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
Peckover’s sharp directing keeps things nicely nasty without ever going too far over the top — though it’s possible some gore-averse Scrooges may disagree. If you want to gift yourself a holiday film that decks the halls with blood, this is one to put under the tree. B+