Firstly I’d like to explain a little bit about the movie, this is a low-budget independent feature made by a handful of people in a small rural town in Norway. Just so you can get to know who these guys are – here is a sort of Bio from the official press release from Christmas Cruelty
Magne Steinsvoll isn’t only an actor in “Christmas Cruelty!”, he was also one of the writers, one of the directors, one of the producers, he made most of the music, worked on the sound and engineered most of the camera rigs used in the film. As if he didn’t have enough jobs in filmmaking, he’s also an electrician and musician.
Per-Ingvar Tomren is the other director, one of the screenwriters, an actor, made the special effects and worked as a stuntman in “Christmas Cruelty!”. Per-Ingvar has Brittle Bone Disease, which probably isn’t the smartest combination with stunt work. During the production of “Christmas Cruelty!” he fractured two ribs, a lot of fingers, toes, small bones, his jaw and sustained a skull fracture, which led to internal bleeding and a permanent brain damage.
Raymond Volle is responsible for the beautiful camerawork in “Christmas Cruelty!”, which was his first feature length film as a Director of Photography. He became director Per-Ingvar Tomren’s closest collaborator, and they are currently working on several new projects together.
Christmas Cruelty is a daring movie, to say the least. The movie comes with a warning sign, and that was a pretty good idea if you ask me.
When watching something like Christmas Cruelty (or any independent low-budget feature) I would always leave any budget issues at the door. I would always think, ok, right!! What if these guys had total control and freedom to make the feature that they wanted to make. What if money wasn’t an issue, what film would we see then? Don’t get me wrong, the movie looked really good, it had a real 70’s gritty Grindhouse sort of feel to it .
I always look on the bright-side of low-budget cinema. If the film has potential (and this one certainly does) and the acting is decent, and we have some nice camera work, then it’s only a matter of time before someone notices that and paves a path for them to continue to make bigger budgeted and better features.
And I have to say that I have a lot of respect for this movie and how vicious it actually is. Let’s face it, if they toned down the movie and gave it a more festive certificate and made it suitable for a wider audience, then it would more than likely increase the profit, but they didn’t, they went for a sinister approach that is very much targeted at hardcore horror fans, and I’ve nothing but total respect for that. But I do have to reiterate, this is quite gruesome and is defo not for the faint hearted. It may be low-budget, but it still packs quite the fucking punch.
There is an obvious talent behind the direction of the movie, and the cinematography was very impressive. I’ve been watching fucked up movies all my life, but I have to say, some of the scenes in this film fucked with my head a lot more than some of the big budgeted shockers, and the first scene is about 2minutes into the film….so you don’t have that look to wait before the madness begins.
The strong references to all our favourite horror movies is strongly present throughout the film. When I spotted my first, they just kept coming and I enjoyed spotting them all. This was due to a lot of the movie being shot in Per-Ingvar’s apartment, and it was a nice touch to the fim. This was obviously a horror movie, made by hardcore horror fans, for hardcore horror fans.
The humour is actually very good, I’ve said in many a post that if you laugh out loud at a movie when you’re watching and reading subtitles at the same time, then the humour has to be well written. Unfortunately sometimes when watching a subtitled comedy you loose some of the punch.. But thankfully this is not the case. Per-Ingvar and Magne sort of reminded me of a Norwegian Tucker & Dale .
Although I liked about 90% of the soundtrack, there was one song that I wasn’t really a fan of. I thought that the scene in question would’ve been more suited to a different type of vibe. Not that it was a bad song or anything, it just wasn’t my bag, and that’s just my own musical preference and has nothing to do with the movie.
The serial-killer doesn’t fuck about, he is as vicious as they come. When he isn’t murdering entire families and committing unspeakable acts on them, he’s at home with his family, playing the loving father. I have to say this was a daring role for any actor to take on, so I’ve total respect for that also. I am sure he is a lovely man in real-life, but he really does suit that dark and deranged role
Here is a little bit about the serial-killer from the official press release.
“Tormod Liens portrayal as vicious serial killer is a huge departure from the roles he usually plays. He is probably most famous for playing the character, Jakob Vassvik in “Jakob – mannen som elsker Jack Nicholson” (2007) and “Jakob og campinglivets farer” (2007). Jakob is a very loveable and sweet role from two very family friendly movies, so the contrast to the villain Tormod plays in “Christmas Cruelty!” is enormous. But Tormod Liens life have always been filled with large contrasts, he’s gone from prison employee to prison inmate, from mental worker to mental patient and now from a servant of God in real life to a real devil in this movie.”
I recently found out that Tormod was getting criticism when he attended his local church for the role he played in the film. Which I find a little bit petty, ain’t church-goers meant to forgive? But thankfully we have the complete opposite, he’s also earning himself quite the name in the independent horror scene. So I wouldn’t worry too much about them, Tormod. Stick to the horror, man!
I also have to mention the female lead in the movie Eline Aasheim. She fitted in perfectly with Per-Ingvar and Magne, there was a nice natural chemistry between them all. But agiain, this was a challenging role for any actress to take on so I’ve also got total respect for that, she done such a good job. I really hope to see Eline in more Norwegian horror movies, I think she could be a big name in the horror scene.
Here is a little more about Eline from the official press release
“Leading lady, Eline Aasheim, has been praised in several reviews for her daring and brave acting in this movie. “Christmas Cruelty!” is her first feature length movie, but already in her early teens she got known for a Norwegian audience through the TV-series, “Fangstfamilien på Svalbard“. A mini series that followed Eline and her family, as they lived one year in a small cabin in the wilderness of Svalbard. This documentary featured exciting episodes with polar bears and other adventures the small family had to deal with, isolated in this cold and unforgiving landscape. When directors Per-Ingvar Tomren and Magne Steinsvoll first met Eline, there was absolutely no doubt that she was the perfect choice for the main character. Her natural talent and beauty far surpassed their hopes for this role.”
Christmas Cruelty is a film that isn’t frightened to go straight for the Jugular, both shocking and entertaining, this was a great first feature from some new and promising names in the independent horror scene.