good tidings | stuart w. bedford | giovanni gentile | stu jopia | colin murtagh | jonny hirst | slasher | christmas | thriller | united kingdom | neil gallagher | liam w. ashcroft | marcella hazell | steve sears | alexander mounsey | amanda robertshaw | garry mcmahon
Film: Good Tidings
Director: Stuart W. Bedford
Writer: Stuart W. Bedford, Giovanni Gentile and Stu Jopia
Starring: Colin Murtagh, Jonny Hirst and Stu Jopia
This was a film that I had heard about from podcasts I listen to. I couldn’t remember a lot about what they had said, but since I was out to watch Christmas themed horror films during December, I thought I’d give this one a chance. The official synopsis is a homeless war-veteran with a checkered past must rely on a side of himself once thought buried when he and his companions are targeted by three vicious psychopaths wearing Santa suits on Christmas Day.
We kick off with a man in a Santa Claus suit leaving a house. The yard surrounding the house looks rough and the man might be coming off of a bender. That’s when three men attack him, all wearing what looks to be hospital attire. They are all wearing masks. They end up killing the man. We then see that they are all dressed up as Santa, all wearing masks as well. We never see their faces, but they are given the names of the Three Stooges: Curly (Stu Jopia), Larry (Giovanni Gentile) and Moe (Liam W. Ashcroft). Oddly enough, Curly and Larry are two of the co-writers for the film
The film then shifts to a man ask he is digging through the garbage. He is Frank Roland (Colin Murtagh). We learn that he is the former war veteran who is running away from something in his film. There’s another homeless man who is watching, Jon Latham (Jonny Hirst). Jon asks if he can come with him.
Frank takes him to where he has been staying. It is an abandoned courthouse where bunch of other homeless people is staying to get out of the cold. They have procured enough supplies to put on their own Christmas party. It is during this that Frank talks with a younger woman, Roxy Muller (Claire Crossland). She is a former junkie, but with Frank’s help she has gotten clean.
Things take quite the turn when the three Santas show up, chain the door shut and then they start to toy with those stuck inside. Some are killed and some are rounded up. Why are they doing this and can they find a way out before it is too late?
I have to lead off stating this film hit a lot of positives for me. I love the concept of these three Santas coming in and wrecking havoc. I’m a big fan of taking something as innocent as this character and perverting it like the film does. It is even scarier knowing that the mental patients and that can explain some of things they are doing. Some of it doesn’t make sense, but that is explained that they are crazy. Not everything they do is rational.
This film also has some social commentary I’m a big fan of. If you know me, then you know that I’m not a big fan of Christmas. It should be a time that we are thankful for what we have and for those around us, but it is such a commercial holiday now. This film has a bunch of poor people who are the victims here. It seemed like a good allegory of how the holiday beats down those that don’t have much and that’s what this film seems to do. Going with this though, I actually thought this film is a solid slasher, because I felt bad for these people. Not everyone is given a story why they are there, but we do get some and it helped me connect with them. My favorite slashers make me feel for the character so I care if they are killed and this film did that for me.
Something I would have like fleshed out a bit is why did the killers choose this place. My initial thought was that they are going back to where they were sentenced. This is the way that I read it and the only thing that makes sense.
Going from there, I will touch on the pacing next. I thought the film was paced very well. We are introduced to the characters in a natural way and it doesn’t take long for the three killers to show up. It then becomes a cat and mouse game, but I thought that was well done. It was reminiscent of the slashers of the past where we got some stalking with the slashing. I thought the ending was fine and fitting for the genre.
I will say though that the acting was only decent. Murtagh I thought was fine in his role. He didn’t do anything to hurt the film, but he really didn’t stand out either. Crossland I also thought was fine in her role, but for similar things like for Frank, I just wasn’t blown away. This is a slasher film so I don’t need to be blown away by the acting. The rest of the people inside the courthouse were fine as well. I did like how Jopia, Gentile and Ashcroft acted. It was definitely believable as crazy people and they all had distinct characterization to help tell them apart.
The effects did have some issues as well. The bigger problem for me was that there were too many off-screen deaths. I’m fine with doing this a bit, but for a film like this, I think we really need to see them. The deaths we did get were creative and some looked to be practical. The other issue though was they decided to go with CGI blood. It didn’t look real and that aspect disappointed. I will say that the film was shot well outside of that.
Something I really wanted to talk about was the score of the film. They decided to use a lot of Christmas songs, but play them with creepy bells for most of it. I absolutely loved that aspect. It really creeped me out and helped to enhance the film. The score overall was very well done and is actually one I would like to purchase if I can find it. It definitely would be fun to use at a Christmas party to get a little of my horror side in there.
Now with that said, I actually really enjoyed this film. It was one that I didn’t remember much about what others said and came in pretty blind. I thought this was an interesting Christmas slasher that had some solid social commentary with it. The film did have some issues with effects and the acting wasn’t great. It was paced well and it had a great soundtrack for me. I think some minor changes could have really made this film really good. Due to some minor issues, I have to say this one is above average.
My Rating: 6 out of 10