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Santa for Hire (2020)


Old Jack here was in a foul mood. The decorations had gone up in the home. My gloomy, dark TV room had been transformed into a glistening, glittering and possibly glistering cave of crass decoration. Tinsel on the ceiling, for fuck’s sake. Tinsel on the chairs. A thick band of it rimmed the TV screen in a bad way. And the tree. Nurse Stabby-Fingers and her petulant staff had found the last remaining twirling, colour-shifting tree from the funeral of Twatto the Clown. Boy, we were all glad the day he swigged his last. Over-joyed tosser. On the bright side, this was the first Christmas Twatto didn’t don his wife’s merkin and ho-ho-ho his way through a dry Turkey lunch. Oh yeah. Twatto did Santa. 

Anyway, the tree ground round and round, metal on metal, ungodly colours blotting out the TV screen and any seasonal delight.

Old Jack need a harsh surprise. 

Enter Blake Ridder‘s Santa for Hire (2020).

It’s a short. Over in twelve minutes. And it’s delicious. Go watch it (I mean that).

A light tale of potential rudeness begins with a parental chat: Dad (Louis James) is hiring a customisable Santa, persuading tentative wife to interview the sod. Cut to Santa’s boots on a roof. But it’s Dad’s night out… Cut to Santa wheezing over a skylight. So out goes Dad while Mum waits in, catching a bit of filmic cheer in a room nearly as gaudy as this one…

And then the interview begins. Is Santa a sweetie? Is Santo a Twatto? Or is he a genuine joy-bringer?

Old Jack needed what followed. Not the questionable bit of social-politics-as-fun (for such a new film, there’s just a moment there that may be unwelcome in this age of delicate sensibilities), but the shifting tone of the interview and the cold eye cast across wintery joy.

And so do you.

Caught in a tinsel shop? Forced into a Santa’s outfit cos you’re the oldest fart in the office? Or the family? Or the home now Twatto’s been sparkled into the incinerator? (Oh yeah, we all had to watch him clunk into the depths with sparklers as our incumbent opera singer (Flat Fanny) destroyed Send in the Clowns. They mixed his ashes with glitter, you know. His request and yet legal). Try this.

So – Santa for Hire feels domestically made, but Sarah Alexandra Marks sells the entire thing. She covers the gamut of twitchy emotions from annoyed spouse, to frowny parent, to nervous-soul-ascending-stairs. The last scene is all hers, though. And the emotions feel rather real. Deftly done.

A cold cut for Christmas, m’dears?

Ho-ho – oh!

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