Christmas sucks in the new SyFy original horror-comedy LETTERS TO SATAN CLAUS. A savvy send-up of the mind-numbing Christmas pablum found on Hallmark, SATAN CLAUS follows Christmas-hating news reporter Holly (Karen Knox) who must return to her hometown to report on of all things, Christmas. With a promotion waiting in the wings, Holly returns home after years of being away. Upon arrival, a murderer begins a rampage that seems to echo the death of her parents some 21 years before. With her sister Cookie (Perrie Voss) who has never left the town and a collection of rekindled friends and flings from years ago, Holly must track down the murder and save the magic of the holidays.
As Holly gets back into town, she and her ruggedly handsome cameraman Sam (Franco Lo Presti), aka romantic prospect number one, meet the residents. Old high school nemesis Danica (Miriam McDonald) has become Mayor of Ornaments (yes, that’s the name of the town. Ornaments) and relentlessly gives barbie-girl side-eye to Holly’s hardworking town-leaving, booze-swigging life choices. Holly also reconnects with gay high school bestie Chad (Alex Harrouch) and Joy (Rashaana Cumberbatch) who has become the Mayor’s assistant. Then there are the two other romantic prospects Chris (Joseph Cannata), the widowed family man with a teenage daughter, and Cole (Ucal Shillingford) a newly appointed deputy on the police force.
Soon Holly’s ice-cold heart begins to melt and fall in love with her home town again. Yes, her producer back in the city loves her work and has promised the anchor chair to her, but what of her newly found Christmas joy? More importantly who or what continues to pick the townspeople off one by one in increasingly outlandish death scenes? Does Holly hold some dark secret that may or may not implicate her in the town’s yule-tide fear? You will have to watch to find out.
Emma Jean Sutherland directs SATAN CLAUS from a snappy script by Michael Zara and the two of these twisted elves know what they are doing. What makes this little movie work so well is how hard it plays into the tropes we always see in these types of made-for-TV Christmas movies as well as how it subverts them. Knox is hilarious as Holly, the hardened boozehound reporter. This isn’t high art, it’s broad comedy with a healthy splash of blood and she knows it. Vincent Moskowec‘s tightly lensed and budgeted production design perfectly emulates the overly decorated melee we are used to. Finally, holding it all together with a musical sinew is the saccharine sweet and invasive score by Spencer Creaghan. All involved don’t just get the joke, they honor the source.
LETTERS TO SATAN CLAUS is far better than anyone had a right to expect and it is one hell of a good time. No this is NOT a big movie, this is NOT high art, this is a knowing tribute to the comfort food we all slink back to this time of year. Only this one has a few nuts.
7 out of 10