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Season's Greetings (1986)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Christmas Eve. The adults drift about the house, making first inroads into the drink. Uncle Harvey, a retired security guard, watches a succession of violent action movies on TV, rooted to a large armchair. Bernard, near-retirement General Practitioner, fusses about, talking about the puppet show that he performs for the children every Christmas. The rest of the family groan at the mention of it.

The heavily pregnant Patti, Eddie's wife, joins Harvey in front of the TV. Eddie and Neville are long-term friends; Eddie once worked for Neville in his electronics retailing business; Eddie has since tried, less successfully, to go it alone.

Neville's wife Belinda and Patti try to get their kids to go to sleep. There is tension between them and Neville and Eddie, who do little except plan their next escape to the pub. Belinda's single, sister Rachel turns her nose up at the Christmas TV that briefly unites most of the family. A male guest of hers, Clive, a writer, arrives late, while Rachel has gone to look for him at the railway station. An instant mutual attraction forms between him and Belinda. Meanwhile Phyllis, Bernard's wife (they are childless), is drunk, trying to cook the Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Day. The couples argue increasingly. Bernard is crashingly inappropriate as he endlessly unloads his puppet show. Harvey shows the bemused guest Clive a foot long dagger that he has strapped to his leg and informs him that he has a gun. Belinda flirts with Clive; Rachel is jealous. Tension mounts as Harvey is increasingly rude about Bernard's puppet show and about his competence as a GP. Neville offers Eddie a job at his new branch and they escape to the pub. Patti is upset about how "useless" Eddie is. Belinda comforts her.

Christmas Night. Eddie is blind drunk, snoring. Rachel watches, fascinated and repelled as Patti matter-of-factly tries to bring him round. Neville fiddles with electronic toys and gadgets, oblivious to Belinda's conversation as she tries to talk to him about love and friendship. When everyone has gone to bed, Clive and Belinda try to have sex under the Christmas tree. Setting off an electric toy they wake up the whole family who discover them.

Boxing Day. With the help of Patti and Harvey, and with Phyllis as the only audience, Bernard attempts a dry run of his puppet show before the kids come back from a walk. He is tense and irritable, and shouts at Patti, who goes off crying. Harvey becomes angry and damages the puppets and kicks down the sets. Phyllis cries.

Early morning the next day. Clive leaves the house for the early train home. Rachel gives him her balaclava against the cold. Wearing the balaclava he goes back into the house to pick something up. Seeing him, Uncle Harvey, who is convinced Clive is a criminal and has stayed in the living room with his gun all night, shoots him.