Look, 2020 has been a horror show for many of us. There’s not one part of the past year that hasn’t been tainted by the pandemic, politics, anxiety, and unrest, so it’s understandable if the holidays feel a little off this year. Maybe this is the season to embrace our discontent with some good old-fashioned cathartic chaos…in the form of old Kris Kringle himself?
Fortunately, horror filmmakers have given us a host of holiday-themed horror movies over the years. Classics such as Black Christmas (all three of them are great—yes, ALL THREE OF THEM) and Gremlins reveal the darker side of the Yuletide season, but there’s something special about the odd subgenre of killer Santa movies. There’s a subversive thrill in seeing an icon of joy and innocence turned into a figure of destruction. For some moviemakers, capturing that thrill is enough. But others use the twisted premise to explore the competing spirits of Christmas and commercialism.
Whether you’re looking to end 2020 on an appropriately cynical note, or you simply want to distract from this long, grim year with some cinematic holiday horror, these movies—ranked from worst to best—will satisfy everyone on the naughty list.