For all that is good about Christmas, we have to consider the bad too.
Brussel sprouts, unwanted Christmas guests, Christmas Day soap operas, and indigestion after a hefty lunch, are just some of the horrors we have to endure. Thankfully, there is always a festive movie or two to get us back into the Christmas Spirit, with such perennial classics as Scrooge, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Miracle On 34th Street waiting in the wings to entertain us.
But when it comes to Christmas movies, they can’t all be considered classics. In fact, there are some truly terrible movies out there that are the film equivalent of an unwanted present you might receive on Christmas Day. We take a look at some of them below so keep reading to know what to avoid this festive season.
Father Christmas is Back (Netflix)
Kelsey Grammar stars as James Christmas in this British ‘comedy,’ an absentee father who turns up at the door of his family after 27 years away. He needn’t have bothered coming back, as this family is awful. Like the movie itself, they are not funny, not clever, and definitely don’t contain any Christmas spirit.
Collectively, they are all terrible people, played by a cast that is as wooden as a forest full of Christmas trees, although the script can be blamed for the leaden acting.
The plot, what there is of it, concerns an upper-class family that gathers at Christmas, and the various squabbles that exist between them. It might be relatable to those of us who have to endure our own family arguments during the festive season, though not many of us have the luxury of a country manor to conduct our backstabbing and sniping.
John Cleese is in the film but those expecting a few laughs here and there won’t find it. Not even this grand-master of comedy can provide moments of mirth with the cumbersome dialogue he is landed with. The trailer actually makes this movie look quite good but don’t be deceived. It’s like a well-wrapped Christmas present with a steaming reindeer turd inside! You have been warned.
Home Sweet Home Alone (Disney+)
I’ll be honest here. Despite the mostly terrible reviews this movie has received (hence its inclusion here), this isn’t the disaster I was expecting. Perhaps because I went into it with low expectations, I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. This isn’t to say it’s a classic, far from it, but compared to Father Christmas Is Back, this is at least worth a watch if you’re in a forgiving mood (which you should be at Christmas anyway), as there is a light sprinkling of funny moments.
However, if you’re a die-hard fan of Home Alone and Home Alone 2 and want something that captures their magic, you are going to be disappointed. In fact, you might fall on the side of the critics who have heaped scorn and criticism on this belated sequel. Archie Yates, who was so good in JoJo Rabbit, doesn’t have the same charm as Macauley Culkin, and the plotting of the movie is actually quite upsetting.
In the earlier films, we could cheer on young Kevin McCallister as he fought off Harry and Marv, the two crooks who tried to break into his family home. In this movie, the two people trying to break into the kid’s home are trying to reclaim a valuable German doll that they think Max (Yates) has stolen from them. They are doing this because they need the money to save their family from eviction. As such, our sympathies lie more with them and not with Max. This surely isn’t the point of a Home Alone movie!
As a family movie, this is passable, but it is a pale imitation of the Culkin classics. Still, it’s infinitely better than Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, so that’s a plus!
Black Christmas (2019) (Netflix)
There has been a slew of Christmas horror movies over the years, with very few of them being any good. 2015’s Krampus was a highlight and so too was 1974’s Black Christmas, but most of the others are worthy of a place on Santa’s naughty list. These include the remakes of Black Christmas of which there have been two. Both are pretty terrible but it’s the 2019 version that is available to watch on Netflix.
As with the original movie, what we have here is a slasher flick, as a group of young sorority girls is stalked on campus by a masked killer. The cast, including Imogen Poots and Cary Elwes, is quite good, and overall, the movie isn’t as exploitative as similar entries in the genre.
However, despite the potential for a decent movie, what we get is a box-ticking horror. In its attempts to be ‘woke,’ with feminist themes and targeted points about toxic masculinity, there is some originality. But in all other aspects, the movie serves up exactly what you’re expecting, with endless scenes of people running around, suspenseless killings, and an eventual unmasking that does little to surprise. Scooby-Doo had more scares than this!
Bad Santa 2 (Netflix/Amazon Prime)
Despite the unlikable characters at the core of the movie, 2003’s Bad Santa was a very funny comedy, with a career change of pace for Billy Bob Thornton as Willie Stokes, the alcoholic con artist who plotted his schemes while dressed up as Santa. The movie was tasteless, irreverent, and in perfect contrast to the sickly sweet festive movies we tend to get landed with during the Christmas season.
Sadly, the sequel sucks, with reheated gags, a boring plot, and actors that mostly seem to be going through the motions. The movie begins where we left off last time, with Willie drunk and desperate to look for his next con, and once again he teams up with his partner, Willie.
This time Willie’s mum (Kathy Bates) gets involved in the con but she adds little to the plot, and the characters stumble from one scrape to the next, with very few laughs along the way.
It could have been good but with lazy writing and little in the way of character development, this movie is as lame as a Christmas cracker joke.
My advice? Watch the 2003 movie instead and pretend this witless sequel never happened.
Christmas Eve (Amazon Prime)
Patrick Stewart stars in this very boring effort, that has none of the excitement and wonder of the real-life Christmas Eve that many of us enjoy in anticipation of the festivities to follow. It details the misfortune of an unlucky group of characters, including Stewart’s bombastic billionaire, who get stuck inside various Manhattan elevators after a power cut. Will they escape their accidental captivity before Christmas Day? To be honest, you won’t really care.
The cast, including Stewart, Gary Cole, and Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder, do their best with what little they have. There are passable attempts to convey typical festive messages that hinge on human destiny and Scrooge-like changes of heart, but this is by the numbers stuff. There are far better ensemble movies out there, such as Love Actually and Happiest Season, and they have far more wit and charm than this Christmas turkey.
If you want to see Patrick Stewart in a festive movie, rewatch his turn as Ebenezer Scrooge in 1999’s A Christmas Carol. It has more to say about the festive season than this tired fiasco and it is the perfect movie to spend your time with this Christmas Eve.
A Karate Christmas Miracle (Amazon Prime)
Bad would be an understatement when it comes to this abomination. Normally even low-budget movies manage to get the Christmas part of its story right. The only miracle here is that this film was even green-lit to begin with.
The story revolves around a boy who believes if he earns a black belt by Christmas Day his father (who went missing one year earlier) will return. This mystery is then unraveled across the painful 80 minute run-time, complete with bad acting, low-budget visuals and a very questionable plot. Out of all the Christmas movies out there, this is perhaps the worst. It’s also well-deserving of its 2.6/10 rating on IMDB!
What did you think of our list? Do you agree with our choices? Have you seen any terrible Christmas movies we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!