It has been a manic pandemic, during which we’ve been supposed to act like everything is normal, while the world is anything but. And now, just as a fast-spreading new variant adds a bitter sting to this world of dread and fear, Christmas cinema once again insists upon cookie-cutter seasonal films of great joy, large kitchens and capitalistic excess.
No two Christmases are alike, but many Christmas films are. Movies are escapism, yes, and it is the personal choice of the film lover to survive this most wonderfully exhausting time of the year by going straight for the cheese. That might mean taking seriously three Vanessa Hudgenses at once in a third Princess Switch movie, or falling for Cary Elwes’ almost-convincing Scottish accent in A Castle for Christmas, or rooting for Philemon Chambers’ Nick along with 2021 best-movie-dad Barry Bostwick in the very sweet Single All the Way. Or, it might justify this year’s umpteenth hate-rewatch of Love Actually. (No judgment here, actually. Needs must, and Dame Emma Thompson forever.)
But I am looking for more. I want something nervier, more indicative of these real times. Entertainment that fully embraces the darker, lonelier, stranger side of the season. Something, for example, that might make you scream: “What the fuck is this movie? Oh my god? What the hell is this?” after watching it on a cold autumn night.