Going back to your hometown for Christmas sucks. Going back to your hometown for Christmas for the first time since transitioning sucks a lot. Going back to your hometown for Christmas for the first time since transitioning while there’s a serial killer on the loose?! In Carnage For Christmas, Alice Maio Mackey explores that third awful scenario.

            In Mackey’s latest venture, true crime podcaster Lola returns to the small South Australian town she grew up in for Christmas. Justifiably nervous at going back for the first time since transitioning, Lola soon finds out there are worse things afoot than the usual batch of small minded bigots: a series of murders that may or may not involve a local legend she has grimly intimate knowledge of.

            Not to be blunt, but Mackey knows what she’s doing. I can’t think of any independent filmmaker at the moment putting out as many films of this quality as she is, and all before turning 21. Much like the rest of her catalog, Carnage For Christmas knows what it wants to be and doesn’t try to be anything more. Mackey takes all the elements of the classic slasher and pushes it into overdrive, soaking the kill scenes in neon Christmas themed lighting and shooting them at insane angles. There are red herrings aplenty, some obvious, some not. Her killer, the dead eyed Santa mask wearing Toymaker, has an aptly tragic backstory and connection to the protagonist without coming off as gimmicky or silly; indeed, I was reminded of the manic energy of Brandon Maggart in Christmas Evil. And, best of all, her characters are super competent while remaining vulnerable; the audience’s emotional investment is earned and justified.


            The part of this film that shines the brightest however is Mackey’s brilliant sense of social commentary. As a trans filmmaker, her work is laden with subtext on the LGBTQ+ experience. What sets Carnage For Christmas apart from her prior work is a quick but effective exchange between Lola and a local cop on the murders. Without giving it away, Mackey highlights Australia’s horrifying colonial past and the not-so-distant atrocities not just against its LGBTQ+ population but also against its indigenous population. Maybe I’m looking too far into things but it feels like Lola’s past experience with her town’s dark history that everyone is trying to brush under the rug is a metaphor for modern Australia attempting to do the same with their own history.

            I’m not a slasher fan and I loved this movie. Maybe I’m bias because I’m a fan of Mackey’s work in general, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

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