Werewolf Santa (2023) Review

ATMOSfx! Woo!
Bloody windshield from Werewolf Santa.
Werewolf Santa movie poster.

Lucy [Katherine Rodden; TV’s Apocalypse Planning (2020 -)] has a show on YouTube called Monster Hunters, but it’s not all that popular (I wonder what that’s like). She’s lost her job, her divorced parents despise each other, and she’s back in her home town of Hastings during the holiday she hates the most, Christmas. After dropping in on her mom — wonderfully played by genre veteran Emily Booth [Shed of the Dead (2019)] — Lucy and her camera-wielding friend go looking for the legendary Hastings Werewolves. Gotta keep her viewers happy!

As they’re tromping through the woods, who do you suppose they run into first on Christmas Eve? You guessed it! Santa Claus [Cory Peterson; Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)]! Even Father Christmas has to answer the call of nature and he’s chosen a clearing in the Hastings woods as a good spot to relieve himself. Unfortunately for everyone, this year’s Christmas Eve falls on the night of a full moon. It’s werewolf vs. Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick and things don’t turn out so well for the old man.

Katherine Rodden as Lucy.
Katherine Rodden

Werewolf Santa definitely looks like it was made on a shoestring budget. Or, possibly, less. Flurries of “snow” that are obviously clouds of soap bubbles sticking to the actors’ clothing and hair. Showing camera static whenever a scene would be too expensive to actually film. As in, you won’t find any close-ups of lycanthropic metamorphoses in this movie. These werewolves like to change in private. Even the attack scenes are cut. You can (usually) see the werewolf pounce, the camera cuts away, and then the victim is on the ground sporting leftovers from the local butcher shop.

Which actually isn’t all that bad, but too often there are location transitions that are handled the same way. It’s one thing to credit your audience with enough intelligence to follow a well-written story. It’s another thing entirely to drop a vague clue several scenes back and then suddenly teleport the movie into a location the viewer has never seen before. It doesn’t cost any extra to develop a screenplay with natural-feeling continuity and follow that up with post-production editing that supports it.

Mark Arnold and Emily Bloom in Werewolf Santa.
Mark Arnold & Emily Bloom

Given what they have to work with, the majority of the Werewolf Santa cast do a great job. Katherine Rodden delivers some good family drama with Emily Bloom and the hard workin’ Mark Arnold [Angel Has Fallen (2019)] as her mother and father. Cian Lorcan brings in some good comedic timing as Lucy’s best friend, Rupert.

As expected, special effects in Werewolf Santa are few and far between, but we’ve all seen much, much worse. Dave Darko is credited as Creature Concept Designer and, likely, is responsible for all (?) of the special makeup effects as well. That’s a tough job to do on a limited budget and he pulls it off better than most. The main werewolf suit is simple, but effective, and the ubiquitous slaughterhouse leavings play well on camera. Intestines galore!

The world probably didn’t need another shaky-cam, YouTuber, monster investigation movie. We got one anyway and Werewolf Santa, for all of its faults, could’ve been a lot worse. If you’ve got a hankering for a bare-bones comedic creature feature where the cast gives it their all, Werewolf Santa is on DVD and digital right now courtesy of Miracle Media.

Review by Robert Zilbauer.

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