|Airell Anthony Hayles
Enter a holiday season like no other with Werewolf Santa, a delightful concoction of comedy and horror that redefines Christmas cheer in the most unexpected of ways. Directed and written by Airell Christopher Hayles, this film takes the old Santa Claus tale and gives it a ferocious twist, inviting audiences on a rollicking adventure that's part B-movie, part Christmas spirit.
At the center of the chaos is Lucy (Katherine Rodden), with a hint of misanthropy and a healthy dose of punk attitude. A yachtswoman with a penchant for monster hunting, Lucy finds herself at the epicenter of a cataclysmic clash between the holiday season and a bloodthirsty werewolf. Together with her friend Dustin, played by Charlie Preston, they form an unlikely duo whose mission is as monumental as saving Christmas itself.
The film opens when Lucy returns to her hometown to spend the holidays with her estranged parents, Carol (Emily Booth) and Charlie (Mark Arnold, seen in the cult hit Teen Wolf with Michael J Fox). As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that there's more to this Christmas than family gatherings and holiday parties. With the arrival of the full moon on Christmas Eve, Lucy and Dustin inadvertently stumble upon a monstrous transformation that will change their perception of the holiday season forever.
What sets Werewolf Santa apart is its deft fusion of genres. Balancing comedy and horror is no mean feat, but Airell Anthony Hayles deftly blends these elements to create a successful cinematic experience. The found footage format adds an intriguing layer of suspense, keeping audiences on their toes as they catch a glimpse of the titular creature in all its frightening glory. It's a refreshing change from the formula often used in similar films, as the writing remains lively and character interactions are fast-paced and captivating.
With a personality that echoes the irreverent charm of Dashcam's Annie Hardy, Lucy infuses the film with a vibrant energy that drives the story forward. And let's not forget the excellent supporting cast. Emily Booth shines as Lucy's mother Carol, bringing a touch of British horror royalty to the ensemble. The legendary Joe Bob Briggs, known for his drive-in movie reviews, lends his voice in a cameo that adds another layer of nostalgic charm.
While Werewolf Santa doesn't shy away from embracing its B-movie roots, it does so with a level of creativity that turns budget constraints into assets. On-screen animation and text intelligently reinforce the narrative, masking any limitations while adding a unique visual appeal. The film's running time of just over 70 minutes is succinct but substantial, ensuring that every moment contributes to the overall narrative.
Werewolf Santa succeeds in being more than just a quirky addition to the Christmas movie canon. It's a testament to the director's vision and the actors' dedication that a tale of rampaging werewolves can elicit laughter, suspense and even a few heartwarming moments. So, as the holiday season approaches, consider adding a pinch of wild hilarity and hair-raising excitement to your festivities with Werewolf Santa. After all, what's a successful Christmas without a little howling at the moon?
Written and directed by Airell Anthony Hayles
Produced by Airell Anthony Hayles, Dovile Kirvelaityte
Starring Mark Arnold, John Bloom, Emily Booth, Cory Peterson, Katherine Rodden, Roxanne Gregory, Dave Darko, Charlie Preston, Zoë Louise Parker, Cian Lorcan, Filipe Donica
Music by Sascha Blank
Cinematography : Vince Knight
Edited by Ross Madison
Running time : 70 minutes
Viewed August 15, 2023 (Frightfest press screener)