Sad Christmas movies?
December 3, 2008 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Is there a Christmas movie that's horribly bleak with like terrible things happening to children or broken dreams or general sadness and woe or maybe like cancer, and that doesn't end well?
posted by xmutex to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Response by poster: That's a good start, but I'm interested in avoiding the slasher genre. I want something that's really fucking bleak, and not so campy.
posted by xmutex at 9:09 AM on December 3, 2008

I always found "A Christmas Story" quite bleak. Nothing particularly devastating happens, as far as I recall, but it just has this overlying sense of sadness and melancholy.
posted by afx237vi at 9:10 AM on December 3, 2008

^ underlying, not overlying.
posted by afx237vi at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2008

"Bad Santa" is pretty bleak and gritty, but the ending might not be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by Evangeline at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2008

Will you settle for New Year's Eve? If so, there are movie versions of the Little Match Girl.

*breaks down sobbing*
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2008

The CBC TV adaptation of David Adams Richard's third volume in his Mirimachi trilogy,For Those Who Hunt The Wounded Down is pretty bleak and involves a kid with cancer and an alienated ex-con trying to make things right in his life. The first book in the trilogy, Nights Below Station Street, also involves marginalized people and Christmas and was adapted for TV; I haven't seen it, but I think it was more humourous than what you're looking for. Both were Canadian television productions, so I don't know how easy it would be for you to find them on DVD, or more likely, VHS.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2008

This very new site has some pretty good information about Christmas movies as a genre:

You can find the happy, bleak, and mixed-message movies all listed there.
posted by eaglehound at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2008

A movie called "Six Weeks" was rather bleak .. about a little girl dying of cancer and how she had a fun visit to NYC during Christmas .. skating at Rockefeller Plaza, dancing in The Nutcracker. But she died anyway. Starring Mary Tyler Moore and Dudley Moore. Maybe not their best work.
posted by Kangaroo at 9:29 AM on December 3, 2008

Michael Moore's first film Roger & Me has a devastating sequence near the end where a family is evicted from their home on Christmas Eve intercut with Roger Smith, the CEO of General Motors, giving a speech at a Christmas party about charity being more important than greed.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 9:30 AM on December 3, 2008

The last post with an actual link:
posted by eaglehound at 9:30 AM on December 3, 2008

A Walk to Remember.
posted by ostranenie at 9:37 AM on December 3, 2008

Gremlins, technically a Christmas movie, ends on a sad note, when Gizmo gets taken away.. *sniff* *cry*
posted by jozxyqk at 9:57 AM on December 3, 2008

While I wouldn't say it "doesn't end well" (last scene is actually rather tear-jerker-y), Reckless probably has enough bizarre holiday tragedy to appeal to the most committed misanthrope. It's a favorite of mine--worth tracking down.
posted by neroli at 10:14 AM on December 3, 2008

How Christmasy does it have to be?

Au Revoir, Les Infants meets all your criteria to a T. Terrible things happening to children - check. Broken dreams or general sadness and woe - check. Doesn't end well - CHECK.

But the Christmas connection is weak at best. Jean Bonnet arrives at school the day after Christmas, and there may be a few scenes with Christmas trees, decorations, etc. - I can't really remember. I've always associated the movie with Christmas and I'm not sure why.
posted by peep at 10:38 AM on December 3, 2008

Brazil takes place during Christmas season and is definitely bleak.
posted by *s at 10:39 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Edward Scissorhands is bleak and beautiful and sad, and has an unhappy ending, although it doesn't involve children with cancer.
posted by muddgirl at 11:04 AM on December 3, 2008

The Christmas Blessing?
posted by mandal at 11:14 AM on December 3, 2008

I remember the premise of the German "Dinner for One" being so depressing that only the Germans would find it to be a comedy.
posted by Benjy at 11:18 AM on December 3, 2008

Thanks for giving me a reason to look up The Christmas Tree, which fits your bill exactly. I saw that one as a youngster. It is was quite haunting at the time. I've wondered if it holds up after all these years?
posted by trinity8-director at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2008

Nightmare Before Christmas?
posted by puckish at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2008

Not finding anything "horribly bleak" (would The Passion of the Christ count as a Christmas movie?), but I'm finding some stuff listed as "depressing" or "a bummer".

- The Ice Harvest? I haven't seen it, but it doesn't sound uplifting.
- Blog post about depressing Christmas movies
posted by ODiV at 11:45 AM on December 3, 2008

If you'd consider extending the time frame to Thanksgiving weekend, The Ice Storm fits the bill nicely.

[warning: link is full of spoilers]
posted by availablelight at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2008

an old kurosawa movie called ikiru. i don't think it places much emphasis on christmas, being set in japan and all, but it's sad and takes place in the dead of winter.

(it involves cancer)
posted by ewingpatriarch at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2008

I immediately thought of Smilla's Sense of Snow though I can't recall if there is really a "christmas" component though or if it's just all the snowiness that makes me think so. Tragedy. Lonliness. Intrigue. Snow. Just like Christmas!
posted by amanda at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2008

2nding the Little Match Girl - the recent Disney version is quite nice.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2008

I watch Billy Wilder's The Apartment every year between Christmas and New Year's, as it's a bit of both holidays. I have been told by others that watching this movie on a holiday would make them want to jump out a window, and I guess I can sort of see why. There's definitely some depressing stuff in there, though I think it all ends okay.
posted by Stacey at 5:32 PM on December 3, 2008

Gremlins, technically a Christmas movie, ends on a sad note, when Gizmo gets taken away.. *sniff* *cry*

Even sadder than that is the story that Phoebe Cates tells about how her father died at Christmas. Good grief, that scarred me for life.
posted by jrossi4r at 6:38 PM on December 3, 2008

"Bad Santa" has a semi-happy ending IIRC but plenty of pathos along the way, some involving an abandoned fat kid who gets beat up a lot.
posted by telstar at 8:17 PM on December 3, 2008

ITV did an adaptation of Dickens' 'The Old Curiosity Shop' at TV movie length that was shown in the UK last Chrsitmas, I can't remember how Christmassy it was (perhaps more wintery), but cheerful it wasn't.
posted by biffa at 4:41 AM on December 4, 2008

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