The 10 'worst Christmas films', from Home Alone 4 to Falling for Christmas

Christmas Day massacres, terrifying Nutcracker rats, a snowman dad and a whole lot of amnesia put these cinematic turkeys firmly on the naughty list

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, left, and The Knight Before Christmas have been named among the worst Christmas films of all time. Photos: Walt Disney Pictures, Netflix
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There are some festive films that stand the test of time. It’s almost impossible not to get teary-eyed when the townsfolk turn up at the Bailey household at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, or get goosebumps when Judy Garland sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in Meet Me in St Louis.

But for every Home Alone, there’s a Home Alone 3 (and 4!) lurking at the bottom of the seasonal cinematic stocking alongside a lump of coal.

“Many of these Christmas movies highlight the regurgitated media we get every year that streaming services now take advantage of,” says Daniel Hart, editor-in-chief of Ready Steady Cut, which has compiled a list of the 10 worst Christmas films. “Did we need a Home Alone 4? Did we need The Nutcracker in 3D? The answer is no to both questions, but we are living in an era of content, which is a shame.”

Here are 10 Christmas films that should be on the naughty list…

1. Home Alone 4

Macaulay Culkin might have bailed on the franchise after Home Alone 2, but that didn’t stop producers from cranking out another two sequels.

In this made-for-television movie, Kevin McCallister (Mike Weinberg) defends a mansion from two thieves before the royal guests arrive.

Even worse, mum Kate and dad Peter, who were every 1990s child’s idea of perfect parents (give or take that whole leaving their child at home thing) are in the middle of a divorce.

2. Jack Frost (1998)

Starring Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston, this iteration of the classic winter tale has Keaton in the title role as the lead singer of The Jack Frost Band.

When he is killed in a car accident while trying to get home to his family for Christmas, Jack is resurrected as a snowman in his son Charlie’s front garden, thanks to, of all things, his magic harmonica.

3. The Nutcracker in 3D

If your idea of a festive film is one that gives you and the children nightmares, then this is the one for you.

Starring Elle Fanning and Nathan Lane, the movie not only deviates a lot from the classic tale, it also can't quite work out if it's a drama or a comedy — failing miserably at both. And that’s before we even get to the horrifying rat soldiers…

4. Christmas Sail

As far as made-up competitions for movies go, “best decorated deck” ranks quite high and is the pivotal plot of Christmas Sail.

With $25,000 up for grabs (although who in that tiny town is putting up that kind of cash is anyone's guess), it’s enough for Dennis (Terry O’Quinn) to put in a call to his city-slicking daughter Liz (Katee Sackhoff) to come home for Christmas and help him win.

5. A Karate Christmas Miracle

When his father disappears during a mass shooting on Christmas Day (festive), Jesse Genesis (Mario Del Vecchio) becomes convinced that if he achieves a black belt in karate, his dad will return.

While his mother Abby believes her husband is dead, when Jesse reports seeing visions of his father, she hires a psychic-turned-law professor and the film turns into a thriller, then a mystery and then finally, a Christmas miracle.

6. Falling for Christmas

Lindsay Lohan makes her comeback as wealthy hotel heiress Sierra Belmont, who falls off a mountainside and into the arms of struggling ski lodge owner Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet).

Suffering from amnesia and without her phone, Sierra sets about trying to revive Jake’s fortunes while going totally unrecognised in the same town as the people searching for her.

7. The Princess Switch

The classic lookalikes-as-plot-device gets the Christmas treatment as Vanessa Hudgens plays both Chicago baker Stacy De Novo and European princess Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro, in this Netflix movie.

Swapping places so the Duchess can take a break from the limelight, Stacy is soon falling for Margaret’s royal fiance and everyone’s weirdly cool about it.

8. The Knight Before Christmas

Vanessa Hudgens pops up again, this time as science teacher Brooke Winters who hits the charismatic Cole (Josh Whitehouse) with her car and ends up with him staying at her house following a bout of amnesia.

Unbeknown to Brooke, Cole is actually Sir Cole Christopher Fredrick Lyons, a 14th-century English knight sent forward in time by a forest-dwelling wench to find true love via a series of modern misunderstandings and Alexa-based gags.

9. The Holidate

Brooklyn Beckham’s wife Nicola Peltz pops up in this joke-lacking romcom which stars Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey as Sloane and Jackson, two singletons who agree to pretend to be each other's dates to keep their families off their backs.

As they work their way through the major holidays — wedding season, summer, Halloween — pretty soon, these platonic plus ones start feeling things they promised they wouldn’t.

10. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Tim Allen returns for the third time as the big man, this time facing down Jack Frost (Martin Short) who casts a spell which causes Santa to lose his title of Father Christmas.

Pretty soon, Frost has turned the North Pole into a theme park and is accepting bribes from parents to put their naughty children on the nice list in what could have been a searing indictment of late-stage capitalism, but is instead, as Rotten Tomatoes calls it: “a bag of bland gags and dumb slapstick.”

Updated: December 07, 2022, 10:44 AM