Director: Rene Manzor
Starring: Patrick Floersheim, Alain Musy, Louis Ducreux
aka Deadly Games, Game Over
Run time: 1 hour 28 minutes.
It’s Christmas and while horror fans watch festive favourites like Christmas Evil and Black Christmas, World of Horror went for a unique French seasonal offering…
Some claim this film ‘inspired’ Home Alone, which came out a year after 36:15. While the better known Home Alone does have elements of the French horror/slasher the idea this inspired a family friendly Hollywood popcorn movie is ludicrous. For a start, a dog isn’t kicked and stabbed to death in Home Alone, is it? The general concept of 36:15 (kid fleeing from, then fighting back against, a home invader) is the only thing that is noticeably lifted for Chris Columbus’ effort.
The French ‘version’ is much more graphic, dark and has aspects of the slasher sub-genre of horror. The above mentioned killing of a dog, around 30 minutes in, startlingly lets viewers know Thomas is in grave danger when the psycho Santa breaks into his house. There is very little humour, if at all, as the story becomes more and more sadistic.
The violence is often extreme and happens to Thomas, not just Pere Noel. Stabbings, people being shot, broken legs and Pere being set on fire are just some of the violent set pieces within the film. As the run time passes by it becomes apparent somebody will be dead when the end credits roll. Although sometimes the continuity lets down the tension built by any violent acts. In one scene Pere picks up a homemade bomb that Thomas has made. The footage cuts to a different scene, it is assumed the bomb will explode off camera. Yet when Pere is next on screen minutes later he appears to have not been victim to a close up blast from a bomb. So did it happen or had he thrown the weapon away before it went off? The viewer never finds out.
Continuity often lets down 36:15, it seems the director is willing to overlook certain things that may hinder what is in store for the movie next. It will cause confusion at times and at others, such as the unexplained bomb non-event, create annoyance.
Floersheim as the evil/crazed Santa is definitely menacing and a good piece of casting. He has a mad eyed stare that creates a genuine aura of lunacy about him. He rarely speaks, most of his facial expressions make up for the lack of dialogue and heightens his performance.
The movie, as a whole, features very little talking. This means the French language barrier is not much of an issue for English speaking viewers. Most of the talking is limited to the scenes that see Thomas’ mother frantically driving home to check on him (she’s certainly in for a shock).
With some quite graphic slasher-esque moments and a convincing performance by Floersheim this is a fun French festive horror.