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White Reindeer: Smart, Surprising, & Subversive Dark Comedy

By Brock Wilbur · December 20, 2013

The concept of the "Christmas movie" can be an incredible moneymaker. Those of us tasked with scripting nonsense towards a fiscal ends have all been presented with the numbers behind this genre, which our bountiful. That's why I've been stunned at the low turnaround from this genre in the indie film market. So when White Reindeer showed a minimalist poster, focusing on a lonely woman and lines of cocaine outlining into a Christmas tree, I jumped at the chance to review.

White Reindeer presents a middle class white woman forced to re-evaluate her entire life, following the untimely death of her husband. It touches on elements from a long series of great films, and carves out something gorgeous for itself. More importantly, it has a comedic voice that buries the lead and practically dares you to come along for the ride. 

As an independent feature, White Reindeer depends on the details, and in the details it delivers in droves. There is a very simple sequence at the husband's funeral, where the minister's words all gauge with exaggerated feedback, which cuts to co-workers attempting to suction our protagonist's life-blood away though predictable and even unconscious means that makes for a the best Christmas comedy that no one would ever define as a Christmas comedy.

The film pursues the new connections that its protagonist discovers through her husbands mistakes, and delves into a drug addled adventure that yield more "real" connections than the life she lived before. For anyone who has dived into this rabbit-hole, the adventure rings profoundly true, and the timing (while owing a small Bret Easton Ellis debt) yields unforeseen rewards.

White Reindeer is a "Christmas film" action packed with subversion, honesty, prevision, dark comedy, and surprise. It is not to be missed.