Directed and Written by Craig Anderson
Starring: Dee Wallace, Geoff Morrell, Sarah Bishop, David Collins, Janis McGavin, Sam Campbell
IMDb 4.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes 47% Metacritic 52/100
Okay, so, this was probably the most depressing horror movie I have ever seen in my life. The whole idea behind the story is sad to me. Plus, it’s like this film was one big political statement. I’ll start at the beginning but, I’ll be as brief as possible.
A woman is having her children to the family home for the last Christmas in the house before she sells it. Now that her husband, their father, is dead, the mother is going to go on the trip she and her husband always talked about and were supposed to take. The children aren’t thrilled with the whole idea of selling the house but, mother states it’s not their choice. As a lot of parents feel once their children are grown and out of the house, this mother feels that she has put everyone first for long enough and now it’s her turn to think of herself for a change.
Now, let’s go through a quick rundown of who is in the house for Christmas. We have Diane, the mother. There are four kids; Jerry, Hope, Suzy and Ginny. Suzy is married to a pastor named Peter. They have been trying to conceive for six years with no success. Then, there’s Ginny’s man, Scott. These two are regular poster children for the old trailer park stereotype. (Please do NOT take that as I subscribe to societal stereotypes. I pay attention to individuals, not stereotypes.) Ginny is pregnant, seems to be due any day. Jerry is the gem of the family. He’s a lovely young man with down syndrome. He’s bright, funny, articulate and has a heart of gold. Suzy is very uptight and rigid, the kind of person that makes other people feel like they did something wrong even when they’ve just met and didn’t do anything. And there’s Joe, Diane’s brother.
Because Diane is selling the house where she and Jerry reside, Jerry will be going to live in an assisted living facility while his mother goes on her trip. Jerry is totally fine with this but, some of the siblings are finding everything hard to deal with.
On this last Christmas in the family home, Diane is hoping for a joyous and heartfelt occasion. Although it starts out relatively close to that, it doesn’t last long. Ginny and her husband/boyfriend/whatever are having sex in the laundry room. Suzy’s pastor husband walks by and hears them and decides to take a peek and gets caught by Joe. Suzy and Ginny are constantly bickering, with Hope throwing her two cents in every so often. Joe is just chocked full of sarcasm and it seems the only one with ANY positivity is Jerry.
That’s when a surprise and uninvited guest shows up ringing their doorbell. It’s a man, named Cletus, who is covered head to toe in bandages and is wearing a cloak type of garb. He speaks with a muffled distortion and his timing of words and emphasis, his syntax and speech patterns are all a little off.
They graciously invite him in and after a short time in the house, he wants to read a letter to his mother out loud to them. At first, they are patient and try to listen but then he references something, an event, in his letter that enrages Diane and she tells him, forces him, to leave.
What set her off is his reference to an abortion clinic being bombed many years ago. While this particular clinic was being bombed, SHE was there and in the midst of having her procedure to terminate the pregnancy done. She had become pregnant, her husband got very sick with cancer, tests showed the baby had Down Syndrome and since she already had one child with special needs, she chose to terminate the pregnancy.
It had to have been a late term abortion because the baby was alive when removed from the womb. He was rescued by a man who raised him and took care of him his whole life. When that man died, Cletus went to search for his birth mother. Diane.
Now that he has found her, he goes to great lengths to make his existence known, to kill
Diane’s children and to get the words of motherly devotion he’s always dreamed of, “I love you”.
I found this movie to be very depressing. Not only that but, it felt like a horribly timed political statement being crammed down my throat. I recognized Dee Wallace. She plays the mother in the movie Cujo. But I didn’t recognize anyone else.
I thought the best part of the whole movie was Jerry’s character. He is by far the bravest and sincerest and most thoughtful person out of all of them. It killed me when he heard the story of his mother’s abortion and then felt like she didn’t want him, love him and possibly thought of aborting him too. He was crushed. And he’s the best kid she’s got!!! He’s the only one with a positive attitude, the one who loves everyone, who is just full of good things. And to see him hurt was heartbreaking.
Not to mention that the idea of what Cletus was feeling and went through. Granted that doesn’t warrant murdering an entire family but he obviously didn’t have an easy life. I can’t help it if I’m an empathetic person at times.
But, all the emotional stuff aside, I still thought that the story wasn’t all that great either. The acting was good enough and the filming, well, it’s from 2016 and actually looks good image-wise. But, I just thought the story line could have been done better. I mean, it’s hard for me to believe she was able to terminate the pregnancy at a stage late enough that the baby was viable outside of the womb. If she had the baby then, she gave him up. Not aborted. I think the abortion aspect is used to fuel discord and uncomfortable feelings within viewers. Abortion is always a touchy subject.
Yet, I didn’t think it was possible for a horror movie to depress me and this one did. I will not be recommending this or watching it again.