Santa Isn’t Real unfolds as a deliberately paced horror thriller that demands patience to fully grasp the chilling portrayal of a malevolent Santa Claus. The film presents an immediately captivating premise that systematically evolves into something distinct from initial expectations, ultimately proving to be a thought-provoking experience upon reflection.
The success of a horror film centered around an evil Santa lies in crafting a genuinely frightening depiction of the iconic character. The designers behind the malevolent Santa concept achieve this by creating a simplistically horrifying aesthetic for the character’s mask. While the sinister Santa’s on-screen presence is limited, primarily emerging from the shadows in the third act, the film masterfully maintains an ominous atmosphere throughout. Despite a relatively small cast, the narrative doesn’t conform to the expected massacre trope, instead delivering brutal and memorable kills, albeit occasionally constrained by budget limitations. After this film, candy canes might not seem as enticing during the holiday season!
With a compact cast, it’s crucial for all elements to seamlessly integrate, ensuring a fluid and cohesive story that immerses and entertains. The majority of the cast achieves this admirably, with standout performances, such as Kaya Coleman’s, who previously collaborated with director Zac Locke in the 2022 feature Float. Coleman delivers a nuanced performance as the film’s lead, adding depth to the character. However, some moments of dialogue and character interactions occasionally disrupt the narrative flow, with instances like a mistletoe scene feeling somewhat disjointed from the overall plot.
Santa Isn’t Real is a gradual build with a sinister core concept. Those expecting a blood-soaked spectacle might be surprised, as the film prioritizes suspense over gratuitous violence. Zac Locke’s impactful holiday horror, Santa Isn’t Real, trades the conventional cheer of the holiday season for a concealed terror that lingers in the shadows.