Christmas themed films always popular on the Hallmark Channel and family networks, filtering onto the airwaves lately right before Halloween, however, the horror genre, began churning out more sinister Santa killing machines of late, though some aren’t at the level of that of Black Christmas (1974) or the classic Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), but an improvement still. Hence, Good Tidings, director’s Stuart W. Bedford feature-length debut uses a minuscule budget of $15,000 and the luxury of using a non-functioning courthouse in Southport, Merseyside, UK and equally impressive poster art to present not one but three killer Santa’s. Bedford who worked with screenwriters Giovanni Gentile and Stu Jopia (who also stars in the film), created a good solid film of the mysterious hooligans raising murderous hell on happy day for a group unwanted and forgotten homeless individuals, in location that no one cares about anymore. The building served once to protect thy people from the people, but never consider the great numbers of these people, and therefore all of them welcomed to the slaughter. Horror fans, usually seek out their own version of bloody good holiday cheer, coming off the high of scary rides, events, movies, and featuring the time to express the shopping spree of macabre items, Christmas Horror fits in perfectly. This movie earned a few awards, and rightfully so, with the passion to bring screams to jolly fun time of the year, and assist in having blood smeared walls, or just teasing lyrics or even choices written in blood.
After a shocking opening the film settles down and shows main focus star Sam Baker (Alan Mulhall) a homeless ex-soldier complete with a troubled past spends his days helping others. He continues to guide those, which struggle with drug, suicidal thoughts, and varied mental problems at his unknown shelters rooming almost entire families. On Christmas morning, Sam finds struggling Jon (Jonny Hirst), offering him refuge in the disused courthouse their own makeshift community shelter. The atmosphere inside strange but a weird happiness fits the mix lot of characters and it works with various levels of acting talents. A true grouping of mismatch individuals from various turmoils and constant array of drug problems and other abuses all gathering for carols and piece meals. As the homeless party, in an old courtroom, the doors become chained thanks the trio from earlier in the movie, now dressed fittingly as Santas ready to bestow the gift of death to the homeless. This giggling bunch of deranged sick twisted serial killers, don’t speak rather motion to each other to proceed with their slaughter-fest desire. Their costumes eerily work, presenting a different version of the other previous killers, no out loud maddening speeches rather just silence and joy of killing with whatever they lay their greedy little hands upon to torment their victims. In the fact the trio listed in the credits as the legendary comedic team, Three Stooges, Larry (Giovanni Gentile), Curly (Stu Jopia) and ringleader Moe (Liam W. Ashcroft), delivering an unsympathetic and uncaring brutal display of violence with caroling in the background. Soon enough as the killing starts Sam and Roxy (Claire Crossland) and bittersweet couple, Paul and Mona O’Connor (Garry McMahon and Julia Walsh, stellar job by her) struggle for survival in the maze of rooms, cells and hallways, which all helps set up degrees of jolts. The actors’ reactions to the traumatic situations varied a tad too much from either over or under acting in the scenes, but the bloodbath mostly appears afterwards, hence a few cutaways and then displaying of it. This usually falls under the grouping of the limitations of the budget and hence best to show the carnage later and allow the screams echo throughout the set.
The filming quality for the most part works well, with nice tracking and framing fitting the shots, especially the opening sequence, which might puzzle the audience at first but rest assure definitely gets everyone’s head into the game quickly. Once more, even a film lists itself as low budget, if the director and his crew understand that, never means that it results in game over, one strives forward making the best with one has, and the blood does flow easily like the eggnog. In addition, the music score of harkening back to synthesizer music made famous from Halloween and the band Goblin, and nifty touch and well received, fitting against a well throughout and presentable screenplay. Overlook a few tremors in the storyline and enjoy a good horror-thriller, which presents a mix of characters and tension to keep the attention of the viewers. One other downside the movie needed another pass through the editing department as it clocks in at 99-minutes, which bogs down in a few moments, if you tell the story straight and clean no need to pad it, use it for another killing moment.
Good Tidings, simply a solid slashing with delight, which the horror fans honestly support, and yes the cheapness does find itself exposed in the film, but intermixed with dilly dialogue and violence making a festive fruit cake. Bedford and his team deliver this present, and while might lack some charms it does make sure you never think about candy canes the same way again.