Elliot (J. Michael Sterling) picks up a prostitute (Lindsay
Reynold Reynolds) on Christmas Eve. Obsessed with her looks, as she reminds him of someone he once knew, his odd inaction towards the prostitute sexually sets her off to questioning, and not so subtly mocking, her john. Only the more she learns about Elliot’s past, including his history as a Nazi doctor, and his infatuation with a girl named Kelly, the more disturbing her night becomes.
Evgueni Mlodik’s short film Christmas Eve ’45 sets a jauntily menacing tone right from the get-go with its opening score. With notes echoing Jaws, I was expecting quite a devious tale of potential calamity… that never came. While the short isn’t lacking in the creep factor, it never really gets as excitable as it opening would lead you to believe it will.
Instead it’s like a slow, steady build that delivers on the expected doom, just with less flair. This doesn’t make the film bad, it just makes it seem less in tune with its own initial tone. Overall, while the score is quite good by itself, it often overpowers the film. Perhaps it is just too high in the mix, but often I found the dialogue and general audio a bit hollow and hard to hear compared to the ever-present power of the score.
Additionally, while I normally don’t comment on titles or credits, I will when they seem to impede the progress of the film. In this case, the opening credits over a static image, for roughly one minute and a half, while allowing you to enjoy the score, also feels too long. Not so much for a feature film, but for a short it can feel like forever, especially when the image doesn’t change at all.
The negatives out of the way, time to discuss the things I did enjoy. For one, the narrative itself, a Nazi-fied update of a short story by Camillo Boito entitled A Christmas Eve, reminded me of something Edgar Allan Poe would’ve written (and upon researching the short story, this sentiment is shared). To that end, I think the short captures the obsessive nature of Elliot’s descent into madness, while the flashbacks and imagery from his days as a Nazi sets up that he hasn’t so much fallen into madness recently, but may have been there for a good long time.
In that way, the short does not only a good job of adapting the source material and soul of the piece, but also transform it into something entirely different. And once certain revelations are dropped concerning the nature of Elliot and Kelly’s true relationship, the entire piece gets that much more uncomfortable, especially considering the Nazi banquet sequences that came before it.
While Christmas Eve ’45 sets a tone early on that it doesn’t quite match, if you ignore that and accept what it does deliver instead, what it delivers is quite solid in its own right. More Gothic horror than slasher or gore-filled, the short’s tale is one of longing, loss and madness. And Nazis; don’t forget the Nazis.
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