With less than a week until Christmas I have been partaking in some festive viewing, yet eschewing the happily ever after type films associated with this time of year. Here are my choices for alternative Christmas pictures.


Black Christmas (1974)

Set in a Canadian sorority house during the holidays, Black Christmas is considered to be one of the first slasher movies. During a party – which the film opens on – a figure is seen spying through the windows and climbing the trellis. This part is filmed from the killer’s point of view to hide his identity, which is quite disconcerting. Not long after the soiree, one of the residents, Clare, appears to be missing. Her father, Mrs Mac – an alcoholic mother hen – and the other girls start a search party but to no avail. Shortly after, a 13-year-old girl is found dead in a nearby park.

From the very beginning, the women living in the house receive obscene phone calls and their patience is wearing thin. The police agree to tap the phone and monitor the incessant dialler, whose calls are becoming more and more frantic and distressing. It is soon apparent that the caller is also the killer.


In Bruges (2008)

Two Irish hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), have been sent to Belgium after a disastrous job. They have no idea what’s in store and await instruction from boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) – who speaks like he’s reciting a John Cooper Clarke poem – whilst sightseeing in Bruges. Ken is happy to take in the sights but Ray is more keen on blocking out his most recent kill by overindulging in beer and cocaine, and antagonising American tourists. It could be quite a depressing film were it not for the dark humour, which there is plenty of. The location is beautiful, even more so when it’s snowing, and the score equally so. Whilst the ending is left open, you have a feeling that Ray has (almost) conquered his demons.


Rare Exports (2010)

In Finnish Lapland, little Pietari is mocked by his friend for believing in Santa Claus. He is fascinated with the legend and pores over folklore books in his attic bedroom. The books indicate that Santa was in fact an incredibly menacing and depraved creature who lived close to the family home. At the same time, an American company is excavating a nearby mountain. Not long after, migrating reindeer are found dead and the locals, requiring said reindeer for trade, are incensed, blaming the foreigners for the incident. Pietari thinks it’s his fault for cutting a hole in the fence, but all sorts of strange goings on start to occur: people have hairdryers and heaters stolen, and soon children are being kidnapped. A haggard old man is found in the snow outside Pietari’s house and he believes him to be Santa. The man is vicious and appears dangerous. Could he really be Santa Claus?

Don’t let the kids see this one (unless they’ve been really bad).

If you’re in to sci-fi, Brazil (1985) is set during the Christmas season. If you like war films try Joyeux Noel (2005) (be warned: there is a lot of singing).