Since I covered all three versions of Black Christmas, it seemed reasonable, in the interest of symmetry, to cover the christmas movie from Into The Dark Season 2. Here then, for your dining and dancing pleasure, is A Nasty Piece Of Work.
Ted is a harried underling who falls all over himself trying to impress his boss, Steven Essex (Julian Sands), head of Falconheart Ventures. Pretty boy Gavin (Gavin? As in Darren McGavin? Anyone smell a Christmas Story reference, hmm? Anyone?) is Ted’s competitor. Much to Ted’s extreme envy, Gavin somehow manages to have the stereotypical spiffy clothes, the Porsche, and the “trophy wife with a fabulous ass” (actual quote) despite their being equals.
Cue the office christmas party. Essex announces that there will be no bonuses for executives due to a lean year and extends this to the entire outfit as a forced demonstration of solidarity. Ted spots Essex alone on the balcony and goes out initially for a confrontation but dials that down to obsequiousness.
This is where Essex drops another bomb: Falconheart’s new initiative to bring valued employees to the executive level. He implies interest in Ted being one of those employees and invites Ted and his wife to a small, private party at his estate later that evening.
Said party is predictably not what it was made out to be, but is instead a contest pitting Ted and Gavin against each other for this big opportunity. This is when we meet Essex’s wife, the awful, condescending Kiwi (Molly Hagan). She goads everyone in the room with most her barbs aimed at Essex and Gavin and Ted’s wives, Missy and Tatum.
Missy: I read auras you know.
Kiwi: Of course you do, darling.
Kiwi: I love your boots.
Tatum: I got them at Bergdorf’s.
Kiwi: I wouldn’t brag about that.
Hilarity ensues, mainly in the form of the age-old “how far would you go” contest, and both men will go to any length. Well. Almost. The more frenzied events become, the more Essex and Kiwi ratchet up the pressure until something has to give and/or someone has to act definitively. It would be criminal to give anything away, so that’s as far as I can go.
Written by Paul Soter, one of the Broken Lizard guys (Super Troopers, Beerfest, Club Dread), it’s tempting to see A Nasty Piece Of Work as a somewhat tamer, stripped down version of 2013’s super-black comedy, Cheap Thrills. Full marks to Sands as a smooth, delightful sociopath and target of Kiwi’s disgust. You can’t get enough of this guy. Every one-liner is delivered with perfect aplomb and utter disregard for everyone in the room.
This is a truly delectable little black comedy in the spirit of Roald Dahl, and like his titles “Lamb To The Slaughter” and “A Dip In The Pool,” the wordplay earns a well-deserved chef’s kiss. Who or what is the nasty piece of work the title refers to?
The whole story could be considered a nasty piece of work, as could the couple, Essex and Kiwi (or either of them individually). Their entire little charade is also a nasty piece of work itself, as is the board of Falconheart Ventures which has kept an eye on the entire evening’s proceedings.
Speaking of Falconheart, that’s an interesting name choice.
FAL– type of rifle (and rifles are integral to the story). Fäl is also an old Frisian word meaning “rough” or “crude.”
heart– okay that’s obvious
Interpret however you see fit.
Finally, it’s fair to say the victor who emerges from all this is possibly the nastiest piece of work among them. Ho ho ho.