The film opens with its HELLRAISER nod in the prologue as Arab merchant Ibrahim (Zlatko Buric) purchases a mysterious box for a man merely described as The Englishman (Pat Kelman). Promised inside is “a whole lot of magic” and that comes in the form of a single black claw. This gives us a price negotiation that would make AMERICAN PICKERS proud ($5,000 offered, $20,000 countered, $8,000 offered, $15,000 countered, sold!). Hey, you can’t expect the guy to pay retail, right? After the opening credits, we then meet the film’s lead in Carlitos (Tolo Montana), who is just getting out of the joint on a two-year stint. When being given his personal items, Carlitos checks his wallet and the guard informs him he won’t find any money in there. Carlitos whips out a picture of his son and says, “This kid is my gold.” Whoooo, boy, hold on to your seats. Once outside the prison fences, he finds his friend Mikey (Thure Lindhardt) has forgotten to pick him up. So he hitchhikes into town, leaves Mikey an angry message, and heads to their old favorite diner. Amazingly, Mikey has left a cell phone with a waitress there to give to Carlitos when he arrives. Huh? How would he even know he would be there? If you haven’t guessed, this film has major scripting problems. Carlitos calls his buddy and they plan to meet back at his place later. Heading home in a taxi, our lead just happens to spot his ex-wife and son outside a toy store, where the kid begs for a Cowboy Jack and Wolfie doll. Carlitos sneaks in after they leave and buys them for him. Hey, can this movie kick its horror plot into gear now?
lensed in the U.S. but mostly shot in Denmark, ONE HELL OF A CHRISTMAS has promise in the last thirty or so minutes. Unfortunately, there is still the hour preceding it. González is failed by his screenwriter who seems intent on doing a lame Tarantino or Rodriguez petty criminal wannabe scenario for the first sixty minutes. Who was González’s screenwriter? Some dude named Shaky González! Yes, Shaky the director is undermined by Shaky the screenwriter. If you missed my subtle pleas in the paragraphs above, I was dying for the film’s horror plot to kick in. Instead, the audience has to endure 3600 seconds of painful family and friend drama with characters they don’t really care about. This is doubly disappointing because the last thirty minutes displays some truly creative stuff. There are some nice makeup FX and some inspired touches (like the animated Cowboy Jack coming to life and the journey to hell through a toilet) that warrant a better movie. The technical aspects don’t help either as the video-cinematography is muddy. Had this been given a few more script passes and shot on film, ONE HELL OF A CHRISTMAS could have been a Xmas surprise. As is, it is a big ol’ lump of coal with perhaps something of a little value inside.