Christmas films, the darker the better December 16, 2013 For Jeff Asselin, holiday viewing means indulging in Christmas films with a dark edge. The filmmaker and Murdoch University Media Production Manager said while Hollywood has been tapping into the bleaker side of the season since Jimmy Stewart’s suicidal everyman in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), modern films such as Bad Santa (2003) have upped the ante. “Bad Santa is the holiday film I revisit every year. I love it because it revels in undermining the syrupy veneer of Christmas, in particular the overwhelming materialism and consumerism, with its mall retailers out to gouge guilt-wracked parents,” Mr Asselin said. “At the same time, Billy Bob Thornton’s character shows that alcoholism, misery and crappy jobs don’t disappear over the holiday season, they get intensified.” National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a close second on Mr Asselin’s list. “National Lampoon perfectly captures what so many people face: horrible family coming over for the day, or worse, the week. It’s a perfect black comedy.” Mr Asselin said the genre’s popularity could be attributed to its universality. “A lot of people see Christmas as an obligation, when you get together begrudgingly and face the weight of expectation that everything has to be perfect, but you get the same issues every year with the same personalities,” he said. “This is great for writers and filmmakers, because you have a claustrophobic setting with a range of conflict-generating characters, including whingers, hypochondriacs, drunks and cheapskates. “There’s always someone mentioning the napkins aren’t nice enough, an auntie telling you about her chronic skin condition and a couple of uncles hitting the sauce hard at 11am, because it’s a special day.” Mr Asselin and screenwriter Meg Shields are currently working on their own Christmas black comedy, Full Circle, one of several projects he has in development. “It’s about a girl who is forced to come to a family reunion at Christmas. Her mum has died, the family is quite dysfunctional and nobody wants to be there. From that high point, basically everything goes wrong,” Mr Asselin said. Mr Asselin said while he is fascinated by the darker side of the season, he’s not a total Scrooge and plans to watch a few lighter films with his kids this year, including Will Ferrell’s Elf and Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause. He’ll also use the break to continue editing Pinch, his feature film co-produced with Murdoch University’s Graduate Screen Program. For more information on Pinch, go here. For more information on Screen Production at Murdoch University, go here. Jeff Asselin’s suggested dark Christmas viewing: Bad Santa “Revels in undermining the syrupy veneer of Christmas, in particular the overwhelming materialism and consumerism.” National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation “Perfectly captures what so many people face: horrible family coming over for the day, or worse, the week.” Die Hard “Alan Rickman and his gang take hostages during the office Christmas party. As most people can’t wait to escape this excruciating annual event, it’s clearly a bad situation.” Scrooged “Bill Murray being Bill Murray in a modern version of A Christmas Carol with great set pieces and supporting performances by Carol Kane and John Forsythe.” Polar Express “Scary for kids as it paints the world in quite an imposing way – whether this was the filmmakers’ intention or not, I’m not sure. Either way, I enjoyed it.” Home Alone “Chaos and hijinks in what most people forget is a holiday film.” Print This Post Media contact: Rob Payne Tel: (08) 9360-2491 | Mobile: | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Categories: Teaching and Learning, Future Students, Domestic students, Schools, School of Arts Tags: School of Arts, bad santa, bill murray, black comedy, christmas, christmas films, christmas vacation, dark comedy, die hard, elf, full circle, graduate screen program, holiday films, home alone, it's a wonderful life, jeff asselin, jeffory asselin, meg shields, melanie rodriga, national lampoon, polar express, scrooged, the santa clause, xmas Comments (One response) timbo tootie December 17, 2013 What about the modern classic Nightmare before Christmas? The best dark Christmas tale of recent times, a beautiful film. Don't anger Oogie Boogie! Leave a comment Name (required) Mail (will not be published) (required) Website You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> We read every comment and will make every effort to approve each new comment within one working day. To ensure speedy posting, please keep your comments relevant to the topic of discussion, free of inappropriate language and in-line with the editorial integrity of this newsroom. If not, your comments may not be published. Thanks for commenting!