Christmas Presence (2018)
Written By: AC
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: James Edward Cook
Producers: Andrew Hill & Karen Taylor
Writers: James Edward Cook & Karen Taylor
Date Released: December 13, 2018
Charlotte Atkinson as McKenzie
William Holstead as Hugo
Lorna Brown as Anita
Mark Chatterton as Marcus
Elsie Bennett as Samantha
Orla Cottingham as Jo
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
McKenzie’s father has just died and left her an orphan. To cheer her up for Christmas, her motley crew of friends gather at an old country estate for a long weekend. But a past tragedy that McKenzie has kept hidden from her friends brings back memories that take on a life of their own. One by one, McKenzie and her friends are drawn into an incomprehensible darkness that feeds on their deepest fears.
First of all, I was blown away by the characterization in this film. Each character was so specific and felt so real, which is an incredible achievement for a horror movie. There’s Hugo, a gay lingerie designer who wants to make sure everyone has a wild time. Then there’s Anita, a sober psychologist who hypnotizes McKenzie to get to the bottom of her trauma. Next is Anita’s husband Marcus who’s a bit older than everyone else and in love with McKenzie, who sees him as a paternal figure. Then we have Samantha, a vapid-seeming aspiring novelist who wants to write about her past sexual escapades. Shockingly, we find out that she’s in a serious relationship with Jo, a down-to-earth lesbian with a take-charge attitude.
On their first night everyone gets completely plastered before saying goodbye to Hugo, who has to leave at dawn for an early flight. That’s where things start to go downhill. We find out that McKenzie had a twin sister who went missing when the girls were ten and was never found and the estate they’re in is near where she went missing. McKenzie is drawn to the area and its secrets by a nagging feeling that her sister is trying to communicate with her.
This film had barely any gore at all. But it more than makes up for it with some extremely disturbing and creepy images. Without giving too much away, this movie absolutely terrified me. I watch horror movies pretty much daily at home and this was one of the few in recent memory that I had to pause multiple times because I was too scared to go on. We’re talking full-on blanket over head, clutching stuffed animal terror.
This movie delivered far more than I was expecting. The acting was amazing and I found myself wishing the film was longer to spend more time with the characters. The special effects were used sparingly and effectively, given the film’s modest budget. Christmas Presence is a solid film that is miles ahead of most typical wide-release horror fare. What could have been a run-of-the-mill ghost story played out so creatively and in ways I never saw coming. I will say that I hated the ending, both in tone and content. Also, this movie has nothing to do with Christmas (which might explain the weird joke tacked onto the ending). Sure, the plot is overly complicated, and the ending is awful, but the journey is so fun and so scary, it’s worth it.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Christmas Presence (2018) one and a half graves out of five graves.
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