61 Days of Halloween – Films to Keep You Awake: The Christmas Tale (2006)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, as well as a list of previously featured titles, please go here.

The Christmas Tale (2006)

This is the second film in this series that was featured in my Favorite Older Films First Seen in 2012. Here is what I wrote about it:

As mentioned above in Spectre, this is a Six Films to Keep You Awake tale, but this is the more accessible of the two I chose. It deals with a group of kids who find a woman trapped in a hole, as they learn about what got her there each faces moral dilemmas about how to deal with the situation. It not only sets up good horror but great character study.

This is the kind of film that immediately starts off on the right foot. It begins with a hilarious parody of a cheesy horror film. However, aside from entertainment value that faux-film-within-this-film will serve as the rules that these kids eventually refer to in fighting their enemy.

The tale is set in Spain in the 1980s and features a group of friends all of whom are introduced with pop-up title cards, but as opposed to say something like Feast, it’s easy to tell them apart after that, especially considering that the characters are well-defined after that. Also, while being set in the ’80s it’s not over-saturated with nostalgia or references. The faux-film is vague and the other persistent reference is a character trait and key to the film.

As mentioned above, part of what makes this film really good is that it balances horror, drama and comedy. The way the drama comes in is that through drawing on these characters’ personalities there are a few moral debates about how best to proceed in the strange situation they find themselves in. It ultimately factions them before they reunite.

I’ve discussed acting in a few of the posts in this series and Maru Valdivielso has quite the task set before her needing to be believable in a few different notes aside from working in a lot of make-up at times and also playing someone in pain through most of the film without being grating. She succeeds in all these tasks with flying colors.

Perhaps what’s best is not just that there’s a very visually appealing climactic sequence, but also the fact that even within a short film such as those in the series are, there are quite a few reversals of fortune that keep you guessing. There are many surprises in store for you if you should decide to watch this film so I shan’t discuss it too long lest I give it away. This is definitely the most highly recommended title of the series. If you’ve not seen the work of Paco Plaza yet, this could be a good place to start get a quick sense for what he does before moving on to the [REC] series.

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