Christmas horror movies shouldn’t be a thing and here’s why

The festive period should be full of goodwill and cheer not bloodshed and fear - so please can we stop making Christmas horror movies

Olivia Hussey in Black Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and that’s why Christmas movies should be nice and happy. There’s no place for horror movie hybrids when I’m trying to spend some quality time with my family and friends; we want to be spreading cheer and goodwill, not hiding behind the sofa in fear, so stop making Christmas horror movies.

Of course, the festive period should have something for everyone – each to their own and all that. But when it comes to blood, guts, and monster movies, that’s what Halloween is for. Scary movies can be enjoyed all year round, and I love the horror genre as much as the next person, but surely we can put them away for the month of December.

Call me boring, but I like seeing my Santa deliver presents, not decapitating delinquent teens. Give me quaint tales of friendly reindeer over body horror movies about cannibalistic elves. I want magic at Christmas, not malevolence.

It goes without saying, then, that my Christmas viewing schedule usually consists of 2000s movies like Elf, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, old school, animated movies like A Garfield Christmas and Ziggy’s Gift, and more recently, the Netflix movie Klaus has earned its place, too.

To put it simply, I want my Christmas movies to either make me laugh or cry. If it’s not an entertaining comedy movie or a cute little family movie, it’s not making its way onto my Christmas list. I will also make room for a musical from time to time, but that’s about where I draw the line.

Jesper and Klaus in the Netflix movie Klaus

Perhaps it’s because I have children of my own that I veer more towards these kinds of films at Christmas. For me, Christmas is and always has been about sharing sweet moments with my family and, being a parent, I rarely get time to myself. With this in mind, the audience in my home requires feel-good movies, as opposed to fear-inducing films or scary movies for kids.

If we were to explore other options for alternative Christmas movies, we would be more likely to dive into the Disney movie catalogue or maybe, if I’m lucky, I can tempt the family into watching some Star Wars or superhero movies – the perfect way for a movie mad dad to unwind after Christmas dinner. The sentiment remains the same, though, in that we want to experience a bit of wonder, nostalgia, and happiness at this time of year.

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I have nothing against more adult-centric Christmas movies in general. Something like Bad Santa is a fun twist on the concept of the benevolent big man in red, as is the new action movie Violent Night, starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to a more mature audience.

A big problem I do have with the idea of Christmas horror movies is that a large proportion of them tend to lean towards parody and gimmicks, often making them seem cheap and lazy. Looking at our own list of Christmas horror movies, I see the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Jack Frost (not that one), a slasher movie about killer snowmen, is exactly the kind of tripe I would avoid all year-round, not just at Christmas.

Eric Freeman in Silent Night Deadly Night part 2

Inevitably, you can expect an abundance of these kinds of movies every year. In the past, they would have been straight in the DVD bargain bin, but now they are distributed directly onto streaming services in the hopes that someone is bored enough at Christmas to endure them. They’re likely to be some of the worst movies you can find, but that doesn’t change the fact Silent Night, Deadly Night part 2 exists, because one wasn’t enough, clearly.

The truth is, Christmas sells. Not only that, but audiences enjoy seeing a horror twist on familiar, traditionally non-horror stories. The impending release of Blood and Honey, a violent take on the classic children’s character Winnie the Pooh, has elicited a frenzy of fascination and is a great example of the way horror can move beyond parody when building on existing stories.

It’s also worth noting that Krampus, one of the best Christmas horror movies, was a German folktale long before it was a film. There is a long history of combining fear and festivities, proving it isn’t always about making money. I only wish that focus on finding intriguing, culturally rich stories was more commonplace within this niche sub-genre.

The finger of the Krampus in the horror movie Krampus

There are other exceptions to the idea that Christmas horror movies are inherently bad, of course. The ‘80s movie Gremlins is a classic, and though not exclusively a part of the horror genre, it strikes just the right balance of craziness and endearing charm. The original Black Christmas, too, was something of a landmark in the genre and even inspired John Carpenter to create the Halloween movie franchise.

Ultimately, though, the odds of a Christmas horror movie being good enough to warrant its own existence are slim. So, why waste all that energy trying to make it onto the naughty list when you could spread joy and cheer and make a nice Christmas movie instead?

For some festive options, check out our list of the best Netflix Christmas movies or the best Disney Plus Christmas movies.