Christmas Cruelty! (O’Hellige Jul!) is a 2013 Norwegian extreme horror set around the Christmas period, directed by Per-Ingvar Tomren and Magne Steinsvoll.

The film follows both a serial killer as he plans for his next kill as well as the victims he has set his sights on. As the group of friends prepares for Christmas in their own way, we also follow the killer as he stalks and does his final research for this year’s Christmas cruelty!


Christmas Cruelty!

Beginning with a savage home invasion and the murder of a baby, Christmas Cruelty! undoubtedly establishes its visceral tone early on. Despite this, the film slams on the breaks from this sickening display to introduce our main protagonists and their preparations for Christmas. Full of seemingly aimless scenes of getting drunk, buying a Christmas tree, as well as getting drunk, the film lingers on these progression-less scenes perhaps slightly too long-lacking any real character development of any kind. Of course, utilising the time for an in-depth introduction to the characters or even trimming the runtime a little, the film would certainly benefit from a more streamlined focus during these scenes.

On the contrary, the film features a strong emphasis on building the character of the antagonist rather than the protagonists of the story. Instead of reserving the killer as either faceless or lacking any backstory, Christmas Cruelty! goes to great lengths to humanise their antagonist. Numerous shots of him working 9-5, spending time with his wife as well as reading his child stories assuredly offer an unsettling realistic portrayal of a serial killer and the double life they lead.


Christmas Cruelty! Unearthed Films

However, as the focus shifts back to its extreme content, Christmas Cruelty! delivers an unwavering depiction of violence through its final act. The blend of gruesome practical special effects combined with an unflinching view of its enactment alludes to some grisly moments at points, their sadistic nature undoubtedly strengthened through their visulisation. Accompanying these sanguinary scenes is an incredibly contradictory choice of music, nearly polar opposite in tone compared to the visuals they chaperone. Be it upbeat rock, power ballads, or even some classical renditions; the soundtrack of the film emphasises the brutal nature of these scenes rather than detracts from them.


Christmas Cruelty! 2013 AKA O'Hellige Jul! Norwegian Horror

Possibly the most nihilistic Christmas movie ever made, Christmas Cruelty! can be a difficult film to watch at times. With a mix of extreme violence perpetrated by the killer as well as humanising scenes of him with his family, all accompanied by an odd, contrasting soundtrack creates a difficult yet intriguing watch. Along with its atypical mix of cinematography, both Per-Ingvar Tomren and Magne Steinsvoll succeed in crafting a Holiday horror film unlike anything else out there.

As a warning, this film will not be for everybody’s tastes but if it sounds like your cup of tea, I certainly recommend it.

Christmas Cruelty! is available to purchase on Bluray and DVD from Unearthed Films website.

Blu-ray Extras:

  • Audio Commentary with Per-Ingvar Tomren and Raymond Volle
  • ‘How Cruelty Changed Our Lives’ Featurette
  • Interview with Morten Haagensen
  • ‘Endless Highway’ music video by The Last Rebels
  • Press Conference
  • Bloopers
  • Watch-a-long with Flesh Wound Horror
  • ‘Tradition’ short film
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Photo Gallery

DVD Extras:

  • Audio Commentary with Per-Ingvar Tomren and Raymond Volle
  • ‘Endless Highway’ music video by The Last Rebels
  • Teaser Trailer



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