3615 code Père Noël (1989) aka
Dial Code Santa Claus, Hide and Freak
3615 code Père Noël is a French home invasion, horror where a young boy is terrorised by a killer Father Christmas and must protect his frail Grandad using only his wits, and traps and gadgets around the home.
Thomas is a child genius that can programme, fix and create electronic devices as well as being a mechanic and lives in a big house that he has made a few alterations to so he can act out his favourite action films and trap his dog.
This must explain why he is such a cocky little shit, but as unrealistically clever as he is, he is a shite mechanic and does show some humility later on so I didn’t want to strangle him myself by the end.
Trying to contact Father Christmas with his friend, I’m guessing only friend, in an online message board, he makes contact with the killer that is accessing the same board using an public terminal (the French had all this accessible in public places since 1980) and pretends to be the jolly fat man to see where he lives.
Through the usual series of improbable events the killer finds his way to Thomas’ house where Thomas must use all the tech and traps around the house to protect his ailing Grandad and contact his mum, only friend, police or anyone.
Yes, this is Home Alone, only one where Kevin is in real danger and takes a beating. Where throwing a brick of a roof would kill instead of merely knocking someone to the ground.
Director, René Manzor, sued the makers of Home Alone for plagiarism and had a good case as this came out a year earlier and there are some similarities but really, the two are very distinctive and different.
Kevin only plays a recording of someone shooting their tommy gun and threatening to kill the pizza delivery boy, whereas the killer FC here slits the throat of the delivery person and all the rest of the staff.
Code Père Noël has a nice look and atmosphere with the director using the camera and lighting well. Everything happens in a dark house with most of the lighting coming from moonlight that has that blue hue to it like a lot of films in the 80s. Some unconventional angles and lots of camera movement give this some extra energy about it and at times the film will use slow motion to create an almost fantasy look about that work well for when needed.
It also has a theme song from Bonnie Tyler
Thomas isn’t as capable or too fucking perfect like the final girls we are subjected to in modern slashers and whilst the killer has to be incompetent at times, he is after a brat and they aren’t difficult to catch, but he isn’t today’s standards useless.
The tech Thomas ‘makes’ isn’t that unbelievable nor too far fetched and even though you’ll be questioning why his mum let him build some of the traps into the house itself, it fits with the world the film has created so I didn’t question too much once everything started to happen.
A great, overlooked, gem that should be far more known than it is. Patrick Floersheim is the real star here as Le Père Noël and has a constant unhinged, disturbed look about him like he could lose all control at any point but with a hint of sorrow you might mistake for humanity; plus he fits the more modern look of Father Christmas rather well which helps.
It also helps this is nice and violent in enough places and I liked that by the end the brat blames himself for everything that happened based on a throwaway comment his mum innocently made just to keep the magic of Christmas alive for at least one more year.