It's the most wonderful time of year… for some. For others, the last thing they want to watch is 2 hours and 25 minutes of people faffing around London doing whatever they want, be it creeping on their friend’s wife or damaging international relations with America and all because it’s Christmas and they’re in love. Follow your heart regardless of what you destroy along the way… yes, we’re talking about Love Actually.

Thankfully there’s another type of Christmas film. They’re about terror, isolation, barefaced greed and the ugly desperation of humanity. And nobody can call you a Grinch for watching them because they all happen to be set at that certain time of year…

Wake in Fright (1971)

You know a job is going to be terrible if a financial bond had to be signed for you to get it. John Grant (Gary Bond) is a schoolteacher in the very, very remote Australian outback. He hates it but can’t afford to leave. Thankfully the neighbouring all male mining town is a the place where a man can make his fortune through gambling and guess what? He’s on his Christmas holidays! What follows is a terrifying descent into a beer fuelled tragic odyssey as we scream at John to stop his horribly self destructive behaviour. Strangely, it’s from the same director as Weekend at Bernie’s. Available on Google Play and Apple TV.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

"Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives" – Shane Black.

Writer/director Shane Black’s work could easily have filled this list. If we have to pick just one though it’s this underappreciated gem. Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr) is a bumbling burglar who accidently lands a film role playing a private investigator. To gain experience he is sent to shadow a real PI, Perry Van Shrike (Val Kilmer). The two get embroiled in a missing girl case which reveals the seedy underside of Hollywood in a beautiful neo film noir vibe with a lashings of dark comedy all set during a bright sunny LA Christmas. Available on Google Play, Sky Store and Rakuten TV.

Black Christmas (1974)

Director Bob Clark made two Christmas films, A Christmas Story is pure nostalgic Americana and the other is a seasonal slasher film that preceded and most likely influenced John Carpenter’s Halloween. A sorority house containing Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey is being terrorised by obscene phone calls (and the occasional grisly murder) in the run up to Christmas. The holiday setting lends a layer of eeriness to this stylish little horror. Available on Apple TV.

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Better Watch Out (2016)
A criminally ignored satirical horror, if you haven’t seen it you’re in for a treat. Twelve year old Luke (Levi Miller) has a crush on his babysitter, Ashley (Oliva DeJonge). One night in the run up to Christmas his clumsy seduction attempts are interrupted by a home invader. After that? The less you know the better. It’s a sickeningly twisted version of Home Alone that’s bound to make you chuckle while also being a little disturbed. Available on Apple TV and Google Play.

The Proposition (2005)

Back to a scolding hot summer Christmas in Australia, this time it’s the 1880s. Two Irish outlaw brothers (Guy Pearce and Richard Wilson) are given the gift of freedom (nice!) if they kill their other brother (not nice). Masterful director John Hillcoat (The Road) and writer Nick Cave (yes, that one) deliver a fierce and gritty tale against a very un-Christmassy backdrop. In fact, you’ll forget it is Christmas until that extremely harrowing and shocking last scene. Currently only available on DVD/Blu-Ray.

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