Unconventional Christmas Movies

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the director was trying to channel their holiday cheer into something that breaks the stereotypical Hallmark movie formula or if they just happen to really like the time of year that Christmas takes place in. Here are a few cases of Christmas movies that don’t quite fit that mold and why they’re worth watching:

1. Die Hard

This one is the most obvious to my film student brain. It’s not in your face Christmas cheer and general holly jolliness, but in between the awesome fight scenes and iconic one liners is the core of the plot. The catalyst of the plot revolves around John McClane visiting his wife at a holiday party on Christmas Eve and being thrust into greatness when the guests are taken hostage by a group of terrorists. There are signs of this being a typical Christmas movie all over- motifs of snow, trees, among others in the beginning before the plot really takes a turn.

2. The Nightmare before Christmas

I have never understood why people think of this as a Halloween movie rather than a Christmas movie. Sure, the main character is from the Halloween realm in this fantasy world, but the kids literally steal Santa Claus. It might not be a Hallmark movie in terms of romance with the exception of Sally’s solo songs, but it still rings true in the spirit of the holiday.

3. Krampus

This one might be a little bit too intense for some people, but for SFX makeup geeks like me this movie is iconic. It takes the standard Christmas movie and turns it on its head, embracing the horror aspect of the original Kris Kringle. The main monster of the film is “Krampus”, an otherworldly being based on the original pagan folklore of the holiday who eats naughty children. This movie is fantastic for those who can’t stand to watch another girl move to the city, not knowing the true meaning of Christmas, then meet a town boy that shows her that Christmas is super cool. Ugh.

4. Office Christmas Party

This movie screams T.J. Miller. It follows the unraveling chaos of a raunchy Christmas party in an undeniably hilarious way. There are all the familiar aspects of a Christmas party- your boss being awkwardly interested in your life, small talk with colleagues you barely know on a regular basis let alone today, planning mishaps and way too much alcohol for anyone to know what’s good for them. There is even a family based subplot like many Hallmark movies- the true meaning of family is just tested in a lot of…interesting ways in this variation of it.

5. Trading Places

This one is a bit more of a stretch than the others. It follows two men who fall on opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum- a wealthy broker and a down on his luck hustler- who well, trade places. The action hits a boiling point at the office Christmas party, where Valentine is framed by Winthorpe. Though this film doesn’t obviously embrace the typical “Christmas is for family and friends and love” mentality and rather focuses on exposing the evils of corporate America, it still takes place around the same time frame as a typical Christmas movie and breaks into the realm of motifs with snow, warm jackets, and dull lights.