Santa Hunters is a 2014 TV movie produced by Nickelodeon that originally aired on November 24, 2014 in the United States. It was written by Jamie Nash and directed by Savage Steve Holland (Malibu Rescue, Lizzie McGuire). The film stars Benamin Flores Jr, Breanna Yde, Mace Coronel and Laya DeLeon Hayes
The film starts out in a fake documentary style of unanswered mysteries of the world and ends with a touch of Blair Witch Project as we read on-screen that the following “found footage” is from four kids who set out to prove the existence of Santa Claus. We are then introduced to Alex (Benjamin Flores Jr), the main character, as he tastes “reindeer poo” which is really frozen yogurt. His sister, Elizabeth (Laya DeLeon Hayes), 8-years-old, is behind the camera documenting the day in school.
They follow a Santa Claus into the boys’ bathroom and confront the jolly man, who turns out to be the school’s principal. After being caught, Alex addresses the camera in a vlog format with interviews with other kids discussing their experiences with Saint Nick. We are then introduced to Alex’s parents who claim that Santa’s pipe, which used to be featured in yuletide artwork, is now one of their treasured family heirlooms and has been passed down to Alex by his eccentric Uncle.
We are then introduced to other members of the Santa Hunters: Zoey (Breanna Yde) and Richard (Mace Coronel), each with their own specialties on the team. Breanna is a master of surveillance and gadgets and Richard is their man-at-arms and fighting specialist – since he’s a yellow belt.
All of the kids are part of an extended family that gets together on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts. Alex’s Uncle Charlie (Kelly Perine) introduces us to Natasha (April Telek) who claims she is allergic to kids. Much to their family’s surprise, the young crew decides to put on their pajamas and go to bed early Christmas Eve. Once the family is asleep they put their plan into action, sealing up the windows, installing surveillance gear, and revealing their Santa Hunter uniforms ready to catch Santa in the act.
Just as they think their plan is going to fail, they are witness to an event that will change their lives forever – Santa appears. Once trapped inside the house, Santa moves at blinding speed trying to escape and the kids eventually find his sack of toes which opens up to a weightless void full of presents and treats.
Santa finally escapes but the crew tracks him down and finds his sleigh where they learn that every time Santa is seen, he loses a bit of his magic. Natasha, still upset over not getting the doll she wanted as a kid, decides to steal the sleigh and the footage the children took so she can prove to the world Santa is real – a decision that could bring the end of Christmas as we know it.
The search then turns from Santa to Natasha as the group realizes the true meaning of the family heirloom. They destroy the footage, saving Christmas and receiving their most-wanted gifts that Christmas morning.
The film runs only slightly over an hour in length but the time goes very quickly. The kids are very endearing and play well off each other. There is the to-be-expected mixture of Home Alone formulas, poop and fart jokes, and the stereotypical “I never got what I wanted for Christmas” but it was mostly enjoyable.
One particular scene with grandpa relieving himself in the bathroom while one of the young hunters is hiding the shower is far too long and would have been a funny gag had it lasted a few seconds, but it drags out to a longer sequence and is painful not only for the actress enduring the sights, smells and sound of her grandpa relieving himself but for the viewer as well.
All in all, an enjoyable film for kids ages 7-12 in particular, but one that can be watched with the entire family and won’t take up all of an evening.