HOME ALONE: A HORROR MOVIE DISGUISED AS A HOLIDAY FAVORITE
I was graciously asked to participate this year for the Shit Movie Fest’s annual “25 Days of Shitmas” celebration of Christmas movies. Being a total Chicago snob, I jumped at the chance to dissect and review the John Hughes classic, HOME ALONE. I love writing about horror movies, but having the chance to write about something from a completely different genre is more refreshing than THE SACRAMENT finally giving a release date. As I wrote my giant love letter to the movie, it became quickly apparent that HOME ALONE isn’t a family Christmas movie…it’s a horror movie in disguise.
First of all, the film covers about four different horror subgenres. Most obviously, it’s a home invasion movie. The fact that two criminals are knowingly breaking into a house inhabited by an eight-year-old with the mindset to kill him is not something I’d normally associate with a family movie. Oh look, a perfectly vulnerable child without his parents…LET’S ROB HIS HOUSE AND KILL HIM SO HE CAN’T RAT US OUT. Yeah, that’s totally family friendly. HOME ALONE follows the formula of all horror home invasion films like THE PURGE, YOU’RE NEXT, and THE STRANGERS perfectly. Yes, his mother is traveling across the country to save him (from being alone on Christmas, not because he’s an eight-year-old left to his own devices) but anyone outside of Kevin has absolutely no idea of the dangers that are awaiting at home. Kevin is at home plotting his survival ala Erin from YOU’RE NEXT, but everyone else is completely clueless of the severity of the situation…including the Chicago P.D. Jump into another subgenre and we’ve got ourselves a “killer kid” movie. If the violence in the film didn’t have the repercussions of a Tom & Jerry cartoon, Kevin McCallister would make every killer kid top 10 list. He’s a demented little bugger with the imagination of The Jigsaw Killer. The kid knows how to shoot a BB gun and can properly rig a blowtorch. Never forget, he even tested out some of his “tricks” on the Little Nero’s Pizza delivery guy, and probably permanently psychologically scarred him in the process. That’s a dick move, Kevin. I don’t even need to mention the slasher side story of the South Bend Shovel Slayer. Hell, that’s a tale so terrifying, Fright-Rags immortalized it. Call it a stretch, but HOME ALONE is also an ultra-violent movie. Had the robbers showcased the REAL side effects of the damage Kevin was unleashing upon them, John Hughes would have given us the goriest movie of the 1990s outside of Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE. Paint cans to the groin, blowtorches to the head, and irons to the face? Is Kevin McCallister a member of Elite Hunting Club?! To top it all off, this movie is a total “rich white people horror story.” None of these situations would ever be possible for any family outside of being rich, white, and suburban. In all honesty, this could be an early Blumhouse flick.
I should have known better simply by looking at the cast. The film is lead by child actor Macaulay Culkin who may have been cute and catchphrase-y in this flick, but then went on to play an infamous villain in THE GOOD SON. Kevin McCallister plays the son of Kate and Peter McCallister who played respectfully by Catherine O’Hara (BEETLEJUICE, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, FRANKENWEENIE) and John Heard (WOULD YOU RATHER?, CAT PEOPLE, C.H.U.D.). His older brother Buzz was in LITTLE MONSTERS his sister Linnie grows up to be the survivor girl in BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON and even the South Bend Shovel Slayer had a major role in CHRISTINE. Was there anyone in this movie that wasn’t in a horror movie? I did my research and there were only three. Cousin Fuller, played by Macaulay Culkin’s real life brother Kieran Culkin, (SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD) has never done a horror movie but growing up as a Culkin is horrifying enough. The other two grew up to be Pete from PETE AND PETE (and now a well respected Hollywood electrician) and the chick from BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY…THEY GET EVEN. Other than that, every cast member has been in a horror movie or TV show of some sort. Even Joe Pesci.
Even if you follow the franchise of HOME ALONE, villains have been played by both Tim Curry (STEPHEN KING’S ‘IT.’, LEGEND, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW) and Malcom McDowell (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, ROB ZOMBIE’S HALLOWEEN, SILENT NIGHT). The fact this film is backdropped against Christmas helps alleviate some of the fear. Adding twinkling lights and people slipping on ice adds a level of comedic relief that wouldn’t otherwise exist. You could take the story of HOME ALONE and recreate it 100% the same way on the page, but if you had the blood and injuries sustained by the villains realistically portrayed, you’d have yourself a best selling home invasion horror flick. Despite the popular acceptance that HOME ALONE is a classic family Christmas movie, I think we can all agree that we now know the truth.
I’m on to you, John Hughes…ya filthy animal.