Tuesday, December 20, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Movies, Day 20: Billy...it's me Agnes

Ah...so here were are in the home stretch.  Only five more days until Christmas Day and for me that also means only five more days of Christmas movies until its time to hang up my tinsel for another year.  This year has been more fun than the previous years for me because I have gotten to experience so many more new films that I have never seen before, and so I hope it has also been as rewarding for you to read.  Today I am falling back on my small cache of Christmas horror films again mostly because, in an hour, I will be without internet for 24 hours.  You see, I am headed to my brother-in-law's family cabin this morning to spend a bit of early Christmas with mom, sis, Ross, and nephew and will be there till tomorrow.  It's out in the boonies and there is no cell phone nor internet service there.  So I'm a little pressed for time to meet today's deadline.  So I'm reaching into the dusty bin of my memory to throw something into today's box fairly quickly...forgive me if it's not up to my usual standards.  Anyhoo, this film is a remake of one I have covered twice before in my 25 Days posts and I suppose it was inevitable that it would eventually be covered here.  It is the story of the importance of being home for the holidays...even if you have to kill to make it happen.  So, without further ado...let me wish you a Black Christmas (2006).

Billy Lenz is an unappreciated child who's mother is embarrassed by him because he was born with yellow skin.  Mrs. Lenz falls in love with another man and kills Billy's father and locks Billy in the attic.  This is not without it's problems, however, as the new husband is impotent...forcing Mrs. Lenz to rape Billy so she can conceive a daughter, Agnes.  Several years later, when Agnes is about 9, Billy escapes from the attic and disfigures Agnes before brutally murdering his mother.  Then he makes Christmas cookies from her flesh before he is caught and put in an institution.  Flashing forward to 2006, the old Lenz house has been converted into a sorority house where every Christmas Eve the girls perform a morbid memorial ritual where they open a gift for "Billy", who they remember as if he were simply a ghost story or urban legend.  This Christmas Eve, however, Billy has decided to escape and come home for the holidays.  So as the girls begin falling victim to the killer one by one, the survivors must band together and try to survive.

You know something...if the Black Christmas remake had transpired in the order in which I have summarized it (and without the stupid incest angle which adds nothing to the plot) it might have been a more entertaining movie.  Instead, the film opens with a poorly handled redo of the original's garment bag murder and then begins in the present with bickering girls and red herrings galore.  Only when the girls open Billy's present do we get to see the gory backstory...for 20 whole minutes...and then come back to the story where Billy is escaping and yet we have seen people already being murdered and so it couldn't be Billy and....see, it's just a pacing mess.  The film makes it very clear that Billy is the killer and then it throws unnecessary and unconvincing red herrings at us, such as Eve, the creepy homely girl with a glass eye who could be Agnes but isn't, and a cheating boyfriend who really has no motive but the music and film angles tell us otherwise...and it just doesn't work.  Then in the finale, when a twist is revealed, it's much too late and feels more like the creators trying to have their cake and eat it too.  The flashbacks to Billy's first spree are excellent...but could have been shorter and much more focused on Billy's abuse and final snap, instead of wandering around with infidelity and incest.  The characters are also abysmal with none of the girls demonstrating anything resembling a unique personality.  We don't even know which girl is going to be our final girl until the end when we still don't care about her or the girls who have died already.  Normally I would say this is a nice switch, because too often you know who the survivor is just but watching the first lineup, but here it would have shown some thought to character and individuality.  I suppose it could be seen as a satire on conformity within sororities...but it's much too clumsy and unaware of itself to be that.  If I could sum up the remake of Black Christmas, I would say it is a horror film with five bad ideas for every good one...and there are good ideas at work here.  I just wish there had been more of them.

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