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Release Date: 12/08/2023 [VOD
Genre: Horror. 

Studio: XYZ Films.

[Seen at Nightmares Film Festival 2023]

"After suffering a brutal attack on Christmas eve, a young woman, Nikki, struggles to convince her friends that the assailant was none other than Ol' Kris Kringle. When Santa returns to terrorize the group in their remote cabin the next Christmas, Nikki and her friends must overcome disbelief as they fight to stay alive." 


Santa Isn’t Real is a slow moving horror thriller that takes patience to truly appreciate the daunting image of a malicious Santa Claus. It’s an immediately gripping premise that methodically unwraps itself into something different than expected; yet after some reflection - possibly better. 


The key to a horror film about an evil Santa is making sure that Santa is scary. The designers behind the Santa concept pulled together a simplistically horrifying aesthetic with the mask creation. The supposedly jolly being isn’t in the film a ton, coming out of the shadows primarily in the third act, but their presence is known throughout. There are only a limited number of characters, so the expected slaughter-fest based on the premise alone isn’t exactly how it goes down, but the kills are brutal in their own right - albeit at times showcasing its smaller capabilities in terms of budget. Candy canes are far less enticing this holiday season after watching this! 


With a minor cast, all the components need to smoothly work together to make a fluent and cohesive story that is both immersive and also entertaining. A majority of the cast accomplish this to a fantastic degree, with only a few instances of losing connection to the story itself from a few offputting character driven scenes. A grand example is Kaya Coleman, who transfers over from director Zac Locke’s 2022 feature Float and delivers a layered performance with finesse as the title’s lead. If there’s something to offer sincere criticism  about, it’s a few of the dialogue choices and conversations between characters that at times feel disconnecting; particularly a moment under some mistletoe which felt stilted from the rest of the plot at the time.  


Santa Isn’t Real is a slow build with a sinister concept at its core. Don’t go in expecting a bloodbath, as that’s not what you’ll receive here. Instead what is offered is a suspenseful film that requires perseverance to fully appreciate. Zac Locke’s Santa Isn’t Real is an impactful holiday horror that exchanges out the traditional cheer of the holiday spirit for the terror hidden within. 

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