Silent Night                                                                                     Cert: 15, 1hr 32mins


Boxing Day                                                                                  Cert: 12A, 1hr 49mins


Meeting                                                                                       Cert: 15, 1hr 48mins


C’Mon, C’Mon                                                                               Cert: 15, 1hr 49mins


Unmistakably, the cinema’s latest releases are haunted by Christmassy Richard Curtis film ghosts. Silent Night.

It The story begins with an old group of school buddies, possibly from Four Weddings and Notting Hill, assembling to make the kind of country-house Christmas Bridget Jones enjoyed.

And yet from these familiar beginnings – attractive thirty-something couples tumbling out of nice cars amid a riot of festive jumpers, sparkly dresses and much swearing – ensues one of the strangest, darkest Christmas films you’ll ever see.

Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode (above) playing the immaculate hosts and Roman Griffin Davis (also above) as their son, this is one of those films that make a real impact

Keira Knightley (above) and Matthew Goode (above), playing the impeccable hosts, and Roman Griffin Davis(also above) their son. This is one of those movies that really makes an impact.

It certainly won’t pep you up for the festive season but, after everything we’ve been through in the past two years, it feels strangely appropriate.

The transition from ‘all is calm, all is bright’ arguments over Scrabble and who slept with whom to something far more sinister is beautifully handled by debutant feature writer-director Camille Griffin.

One minute we’re thinking the slowly emerging underlying sadness reminds us of Peter’s Friends or The Big Chill, the next we’ve gone crashing straight into Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. 

It is also impressive to see her use sparingly of powerful visual effects.

Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Roman Griffin Davis (from JoJo Rabbit), play the lovely hosts. This is one of those movies that really makes an impression. 

It’s not what most people expect.

There’s more Curtis being amusingly subverted in Boxing Day, which begins with a reflective male voice-over and will later feature those much abused placards from Love Actually and a declaration of love – sadly not in the hesitant style of Hugh Grant – on London’s South Bank. 

Aml Ameen, writer and director, is clearly doing this with intention, love, and to great effect.

Melvin (Aml Ameen) returns to his family home this Christmas, but what will go wrong when he introduces his fiancee Lisa (Aja Naomi King, above with Ameen) to everyone?

Melvin (Aml Ameen), returns home to his family this Christmas. But what happens when his fiancee Lisa, (Aja Naomi Kings, above with Ameen,) is introduced to the entire family?

Ameen himself, who starred in Kidulthood and TV’s I May Destroy You, plays the central character of Melvin, a former British soap star who has carved out a successful career as a writer in Hollywood.

But to promote his latest book he needs to return to London at Christmas, which means not just braving his British-Caribbean family’s legendary Boxing Day party but also introducing his beautiful American fiancee, Lisa (Aja Naomi King), to them.

You can’t imagine what could possibly go wrong. 

His parents are recently divorced, his mother has a new boyfriend who just happens to be white and Melvin’s ex-girlfriend Georgia (played by Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix) – the girl everybody thought he would marry – will also be there.

While there may be a couple of comical misfires here and there, this holiday season is warmly crafted.

Meeting begins as a fairly standard sci-fi story with the Earth under attack from parasitic alien micro-organisms and Riz Ahmed playing a soldier who’s part of the fight-back and needs to rescue his two young sons when their mother and her new boyfriend become infected.

Michael Pearce (who brought us the amazing Beast in 2017) directed the film and co-wrote the script. However, the movie reveals its real intentions quite early, though only a few seconds after the majority of viewers will already have guessed. 

It then becomes a cliche-filled, over-acting mess.

Christopher Plummer won an Oscar as a comedy actor in Beginners (2010), but Mike Mills took him to the Oscars in that same drama ten years later. C’mon, C’mon.

It’s been shot in stylish black-and-white and features the mercurial Joaquin Phoenix as a radio journalist who embarks on a working road trip with his intellectually precocious young nephew, whose mother suddenly has to go and care for her bipolar and partially estranged husband.

What results is intense, repetitive and thoughtful… but probably not what most people are in the mood for at the moment.

Now, where’s Richard Curtis when you need him?