Movie Review: A Christmas Comedy with a Corpse — “Twas the Night”

There have been other holiday movies to use the title “Twas the Night,” but it’d be hard to name one that was worse.

A farce about a family Christmas get together involving hiding a body, the only thing without a pulse about it is everything about it. Tone-deaf, ineptly scripted and directed, lifeless and tedious, it’s only 82 minutes long.

I want those 82 back.

Holly (Nicole Pringle) is prepping for the holidays, getting the house ready for her family and her fiance’s, whom she’s never met. Nick (David S. Perez) is helping mostly by “reminding” Holly to call the plumber again, locate an Advent wreath, etc.

But there’s a cloud hanging over this “night before Christmas.” Holly, a psychiatrist, has gone “viral.” Somebody videoed her having a bad day and a good old-fashioned rant at the bell-ringer charity Santa parked in front of their three story brownstone. She even made the evening news, it turns out.

Their mail is filled with “Dear Santa Killer” wishes that she drop dead.

Well, “Merry G–damned Christmas” is all she can say to that.

Don’t know about you, but I’m in her corner, right from the get-go. An incessant beardless bell-ringer outside of my house? I’m either moving or “distractedly” driving up on the sidewalk to deal with that.

But no. “Twas the Night” doesn’t have that sort of edge. Or any edge.

Holly invites beardless Santa “Jesus” (Abel Rosario) in for a peace-offering of hot chocolate and cookies. Nick comes home, there’s an accident involving a laboriously-set-up “hang the decorations without a proper ladder,” and Santa’s down, there’s blood with Nick going “Who IS this?”

“JESUS” is Holly’s only appropriate response.

As there’s no pulse and lots of blood and four parents knocking at the door, let’s hide the body and get on with our holiday. Holly can’t call the cops. She “threatened” this guy and it was caught on camera.

“I’m not ACTUALLY going to kill someone,” she sputters on the phone to a hate caller. “It’s a figure of SPEECH, genius!”

That’s the tone the movie needs, the edge that Holly should play in every moment.

Alas Pringle and co-writers/directors Chris Rodriguez and Grant Rosado didn’t see that, and their general haplessness shows up everywhere else as well.

They blow punchlines, have scenes hit their edit point long after their payoff and can’t find anything funny to do with a body in a brownstone on the night before Christmas.

There are maybe two laughs here, both of them involving Holly, both with hints of Pringle going all Sherri Shepherd “angry Black woman.”

A bigger laugh is here, on the IMDB page, where one of the directors or some sap who wrote them a check “reviewed” this dog with “10 on a scale of one to ten.”

That’s as groaningly obvious as everything else about this staggering, stumbling corpse-on-two-legs of a movie, the worst Christmas film of them all.

Rating: unrated, a little blood, some profanity

Cast: Nicole Pringle, David S. Perez, Abel Rosario, Cynthia D. Perry, Lisa Panagopoulos, Paul Van Scott, James Lee Fronck.

Credits Scripted and directed by Chris Rodriguez and Grant Rosado. A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:22

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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