Christmas 1947 in Crow River, Canada, finds Kate Taggert busy directing the school pageant; her husband, Jerry, a vet prone to nightmares, policing the town; and their eight-year-old daughter, Tilly, still upset about her chum Ellie's death-plunge down a mine- shaft. Before she died, Ellie told Tilly a secret: Santa promised her a locket for Christmas. When another school pal admits to the same secret, then is almost strangled, Tilly is scared--and ``Santa'' starts to stalk her. Which town worthy is the child- abuser? Possibilities include: the much-trusted doctor; the henpecked mayor; the widowed minister; and--after Tilly watches him snap the neck of their Christmas goose--even father Jerry. Eventually, Santa and Tilly will meet up--during act two of the pageant--with less-than-predictable results. Ward (the bizarre, campy Death Takes the Stage, 1988) tries for a naturalistic horror story, but--despite an effective rendering of a small, isolated community--it all turns heavy-handed when he introduces suspects and possible motives. Still, persuasively chilling.