On the Radar – Secret Santa

By Jason Sawyer – Dec. 18, 2018


Part of the magic of the holidays is coming together, spending time, and sharing food & presents with those we love. That’s a thing we like to think, right? In an effort to idealize a season that we’ve laden heavily with expectations and romanticized notions, many actually experience a sharp spike in anxiety when confronted with the prospect of buying the right gifts, preparing the perfect meal, arranging the most elaborate decorations, or enduring awkward and cringe-inducing gatherings with barely tolerated relatives. What if all that self-inflicted stress, those delusional ambitions, and repressed passive-aggressive loathing boiled over into an unrestrained orgy of blood-letting and brutality? Secret Santa would be the result.


When it’s three hours into Christmas dinner and your relatives are giving you that ‘drop the weapon’ look, it’s time to lay off the eggnog.

The Pope family, well-monied from their involvement in the pharmaceutical industry, have assembled for their annual Christmas party, and for the most part, dislike each other rather thoroughly. The over-bearing matriarch, her acid-spitting first husband, the offensive uncle, the horndog half-brother, his stripper girlfriend, the secretly cruel and conniving sister, the depressed one – they’re an upper-class white American potpourri basket. While they’re generally able to trudge their ways through the yearly ritual, not so much this time, as someone has spiked the punch bowl with a little something from the family business – an experimental military-grade truth serum that will have everyone speaking their unfiltered minds. However, this descends into chaotic savagery, as the waspish clan is no longer able to resist their darkest impulses either.


“I told you a juicer was a terrible gift idea, Susan. Now look what happened…”

Director Adam Marcus and co-star Debra Sullivan have received praise for penning a script that doesn’t hold back, full of razor-sharp wit, outrageous offensiveness, and loads of vicious violence. The plentiful gore is offered up by legendary SFX artist and co-producer Robert Kurtzman, whose work includes From Dusk Till Dawn, Scream, It Follows, and numerous entries in the Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween, and Evil Dead franchises. This also marks the first horror film by Adam Marcus since his debut 25 years ago – the absolutely bonkers and super-divisive Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

I’ve personally always liked that much-reviled movie for all its irreverent, splattery, and batshit crazy charm, so I’m extremely curious to see what a quarter century of experience has brought to the guy who delivered the fever dream entry of the Friday the 13th series. Secret Santa has already been released in the UK by the Frightfest Presents label, and there, it has so far proven to be a love-or-hate experience too, but I suppose that’s always better than audiences responding with a collective shoulder shrug. Word on an American release has proven to be confusing, at best. While there’s no announcements from any official outlets, IMDb states its US date as today, and have seen that reflected elsewhere, but without any solid confirmations. Considering that, sometimes, films are dropped on VOD or streaming with less fanfare than a trip to the grocery store, it’s not impossible, but probably unlikely. Either way, as I’m eager to watch this, that would be preferable to having to wait another year to see it, which is also possible.

In other On the Radar news, the red-band trailer for previous feature Braid was released several days ago. Here it is:

On the Radar