Black Christmas (2006)

Black Christmas (2006)

This holiday season, the slay ride begins.

An escaped maniac returns to his childhood home on Christmas Eve, which is now a sorority house, and begins to murder the sorority sisters one-by-one.

 

Still short on original ideas in Hollywood, here is yet another remake of a previously forgotten 70s flick. The original Black Christmas is little known outside of the horror genre and it’s a pity because, although it’s not the greatest slasher film out there, it has always been regarded as “the first slasher flick” and preceded the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th by some years. Its relative obscurity has lead to it being cast aside in the annals of the genre with the plaudits always heading towards John Carpenter’s classic first. So it was a good choice to remake, if only for the fact that it would send a lot of people scurrying to the video shops to track down the original. After thirty-two years and given the recent spate of appalling remakes (The Fog anyone?), how does this modern retelling of Black Christmas stand up in the year 2007?

Surprisingly well it has to be said! Black Christmas never going to win any awards for originality and it reeks of the smell of modern teen horror but do you know something – this is one nasty piece of work! For its certificate/rating, the boundaries are pushed as far as they can possibly go and Black Christmas is one mean-spirited festive slay ride. This killer doesn’t just stab people with a knife: he wraps plastic bags around his victims’ heads, choking the life out of them before ripping out and feasting upon their eye balls. It’s uber-violent, sometimes even too violent. It’s nasty and unrelenting at times – everything that Christmas shouldn’t be about – and it plays on this with some choice killings (candy canes should be used more often as murder weapons).

The female cast bobble about in low cut tops, displaying ample cleavage and legs but they’re so bitchy and whiny, it’s hard to root for any of them. Well, being a guy I always want the attractive ones to be kept alive as long as possible. But the pace of the film is such that some of them don’t even see out the first half an hour. The kills begin quickly and don’t let up throughout the film which is good because you’re never any more than about ten minutes away from the next outburst of violence. Some recognisable faces are in there such as Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Die Hard 4), Lacey Chabert (various crappy American teen comedies) and Michelle Trachtenberg (The TV series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) but don’t bother trying to second guess who will survive and who will not because the script tries to mix it up so that its not always the most famous people who survive till the end. There’s a decent sized cast too which means the killer is pretty busy throughout. Thankfully any plodding moments in the film (of which there are many and mainly involve unnecessary flashbacks and pointless non-characters being introduced to up the body count) don’t plod for too long before another body is thrown onto the heap.

On the flip side to all this, the remake just blends into the genre crowd like a Where’s Wally cartoon. At least the original was a groundbreaking trendsetter which influenced the way the likes of John Carpenter approached the subject matter in Halloween, being one of the first films to introduce the tropes that would become almost standard for the sub-genre. This remake could go under the guise of any big budget slasher of the last six-seven years and no one would notice the different. Most of the plot of the original has been ditched and save for the memorable phone calls, this tries to do it’s own thing.

Replacing true atmosphere and scares with a splattering of blood is a cheap trick to cover over the cracks in the film. Apart from the blood and brutality there’s nothing worthwhile to proceedings. The writing seems to have been under draft when production began. The script makes the big mistake of throwing in an unnecessary back story to the killer and an even more confusing series of twists and turns at the end of the film. Do we really need to know what turned Billy into this psycho? Surely the fact that he is a psycho and he’s heading for the house is all we need to know? But I guess that’s what they call padding in Hollywood nowadays – fleshing out back stories! I don’t see the need for horror films to focus so much of their time on giving their killers stories, turning them human and simply watering down any sense of fear or terror they may have caused (see Michael Myers in the Halloween remake or Leather in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning)

 

Black Christmas is a pretty middling remake. On one hand it’s everything that I hate about modern horror – the style over substance approach with more focus on gore and ‘boo’ moments as opposed to genuine scares or tension which is sorely lacking. But on the other hand, it actually delivers as much in the way of modern slasher goods as any other big budget slasher film of the last couple of years that I can remember.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Related Movies

Post a comment