Christmas Horror Round-Up 2023

It’s that time of year again, and I think between this and a previous Christmas horror post, I’ve checked out all the Christmas horror for 2023. I’ve added them all to the complete holiday horror page, so let’s find out which ones were my faves.


This is an enjoyable, semi-comedy horror flick that is visually stunning, has plenty of Christmas atmosphere, and delivers violence and blood. It’s also notably reminiscent of Gremlins, from aspects of the concept to the PG-13 family vibe.

An American family—father, son, daughter, stepmother—inherits a house in Norway.

Before long, the son discovers an elf in the barn and learns that there are rules to keep it from turning on you.

The family breaks the bright light and noise rules as soon as they set up their massive Christmas display.

There is somewhat of a slow burn here, but instead of enhancing the suspense, it causes the film to drag for a while. It’s not until 42 minutes in that the elf first gets into the house and we finally get a kill scene.

However, that’s when the film takes off. After a fight with the family, the elf calls in its village of elves. Eek!

Talk about change of pace. The film goes into overdrive, with loads of battles, chases, and Christmas red blood splatters. The family is likable, the elves are likable in an evil way, there’s a funny zombie reference, pokes at American gun culture, and a hokey, heartfelt ending. There’s Something in the Barn will definitely get you in the Christmas horror spirit.


Despite doing something a little different with the home invasion premise and delivering plenty of Christmas décor, this film just didn’t give me any sense of tension or suspense. It did, however, deliver plenty of torture and gore.

Two girls are left behind at a boarding school during Christmas break and learn of a series of Christmas home invasions and murders (beautifully presented in the opening scene).

Wouldn’t you know, the home invaders invade the school.

We’ve seen the first part of this film many times before, with victims being terrorized while tied up at a table. However, since these serial invaders have been leaving signs of Satanism behind at the sites of their crimes, the film does eventually get that twist…and a few twists on top of that. I really liked the general idea, but I simply didn’t get enough thrills from how it all unfolds.


This is one trippy Christmas horror movie that will have you questioning whether you’re watching a creature feature, a parable, a fairy tale, a comic book adaptation…or a little bit of each.

Christmas visuals perfectly mesh with horror lighting as we meet Kate from This Is Us, who gets to play a very different character in this film.

She lives with her daughter, they have a volatile relationship, and right from the start you begin to question who the real monster is—or if there’s even a monster at all.

Suddenly their home is “invaded” by Scout Taylor-Compton and her brother, who are actually just looking for refuge from the storm.

You’ll soon start feeling like you’re high on something as no one in the film seems to really comprehend their own circumstances, cryptic conversations fly, tensions over faith arise, and the horrors the mother and daughter are hiding begin to come to light.

Whether real or imaginary, the monster is definitely fricking awesome and provides satisfying horror even if we never quite understand what’s going on. There’s a snow tunnel scene that is the horrific highlight of the whole damn movie, as well as a delicious monster transformation scene.

The only catch is that because the movie is so surreal and trying way too hard to be complex and psychological, it’s not one I could turn to when I just want to watch some comfort holiday horror. The film does its best to explain everything with one final sequence, but when the writing requires an addendum to all make sense, it sort of takes the fun out of watching everything that came before it.


To think an excruciating movie like Skinamarink was getting so much positive attention while an awesome, out-of-the-box flick like Adult Swim Yule Log is going unnoticed.

This movie is batshit crazy and I couldn’t stop watching. It just doesn’t give a fuck, which is what makes it so entertaining. Is it a Christmas movie? Not specifically, but we do tend to think of Christmas when we hear Yule log.

The fact is, a couple is staying at a cabin in the woods, and the dude makes money filming Yule logs for the internet. So he sets up a camera facing the fireplace…and burns the wrong log.

At first, much of the film is shot from that fixed POV (very Paranormal Activity), but that changes to standard 3rd person POV…as well as the POV of the Yule log. Not even kidding.

There’s a hillbilly woman and her masked son on the loose killing people. A group of friends shows up claiming to have rented the cabin for the weekend, but they can’t get in touch with the landlord to see if it was a double booking (a very Barbarian moment).

Then shit gets crazy.

This movie has trippy scenes due to edibles being eaten by the characters, the Yule log comes to life and starts flying around bashing people’s heads in, a character simply changes to another character with no logical explanation beyond supernatural fuckery, the hillbillies show up to cause more chaos, there’s an alien angle, and there are moments of split screen showing the history of what has happened in the cabin, from slavery, to queer people, and more. None of it makes sense but it is impossible to look away, and the horror elements rock.


It is inexcusable to make an anthology with three stories and a wraparound 2 hours and ten minutes long. That could have been avoided if the writing had focused on the basic premise of each story instead of going for some sort of art house vibe.

These stories fall apart because they are all over the place. I’ll try to narrow down the narrative of each story as best as I can—just know that none of them is this straightforward.

The opener is enticing enough. Three creeps in Christmas costumes break into a house and kill most of the family and some cops. One child is left alive and a dude dressed as Santa starts telling him stories.

1st story – a puppeteer fails to land a job at an audition, has flashbacks of a traumatic past, and begins killing people while wearing a reindeer a mask and carrying around his snowman puppet.

2nd story – dealing with an absent father at Christmas, a kid soon has to contend with Krampus sneaking into his house. Krampus is more human than creature, and he’s oddly campy.

3rd story – a former holy man endangers his whole family as a sort of vengeance cult targets everyone he knows before coming for him.

The film has cool horror elements and plenty of Christmas spirit, but that alone wasn’t enough to keep me mesmerized. I was really never sure of what I was witnessing, and I was trying so hard to make sense of it all that I couldn’t enjoy it—I was even convinced at one point that the stories were actually all interweaving. Were they? I don’t know.

YULE LOG (2023)

Running only 71 minutes long, this is a Mark Polonia movie, and I’m guessing he was giving his own no budget twist to a similar concept as Adult Swim Yule Log.

Three middle-aged men go to a cabin in the woods, cut a log off a tree used to kill a witch once, and then start to experience terror at the cabin as tree branches encroach on it, complete with a sloppy attempt at Evil Dead camera POV.

But there’s more to it than that—however, not a killer Yule log. The witch is lurking in the woods, and she’s pretty cool in a haunted attraction witch costume sort of way. The only thing that spoils the battle to the death with her at the end is the appearance of a demon that looks like a CGI Ghidorah, the three-headed monster.

If you bother to watch this one, keep an ear out for an in-movie radio plug for another Polonia Christmas movie, Sister Krampus.


This is a 71-minute long movie with a campy concept and dry British humor, but going into it, you have to accept that there’s no budget, so the werewolf Santa is just a guy in a Santa suit and a cheap werewolf mask. Even so, I found it to be entertaining.

The film begins with Joe Bob Briggs in comic book form narrating the entire “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem, which is totally unnecessary beyond landing his name on the film.

We then meet Lucy, who has an online monster hunting show. When she and her cameraman are visiting her family for Christmas, they go out into the park to hunt for werewolves and end up seeing Santa get attacked by one.

Santa goes all lycanthrope, and now it’s up to Lucy and her family to save Christmas by killing him.

As silly as it is, there’s holiday atmosphere, humor, and even some good suspense, most notably in a haunted attraction they stumble into (on Christmas Eve?). There’s even a good twist at the end.


Running 75 minutes long, this is another one of the better flicks in this year’s choices, so I’m glad I finished off with it. It has a lot going for it. It’s sleek and beautifully shot, there’s loads of Christmas atmosphere, the setup is really intriguing and tense, and there is some good gore (eventually).

The opener has a young woman alone on Christmas when someone in a Santa suit and mask comes down the chimney and attacks her. She’s in a coma for a year, and it was believed she attempted suicide.

Once she’s awake and back in business, she decides to go to a cabin in the woods with her boyfriend and her two best girlfriends. There she tells them what really happened to her…and then strange things begin to occur in the cabin.

The first part of the film totally sucks you in, but the turning point causes two problems—it basically makes it easy to guess who the killer is, and it also slows the pace drastically. There’s even a plot point about religion, God, and faith that kind of killed it for me. Discussions about God in a Christmas horror movie? Sinful.

The other thing to note is that with only four characters, there is barely a body count, and the killing only starts in the last fifteen minutes.

It almost seems like the filmmakers were concerned about that fact, because there’s a totally random scene after the credits that bears no connection to the rest of the film and has a completely different, cheesy tone. And in the end, I still have no idea if Santa was real or not.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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