Friday, December 7, 2012

25 Days of Christmas Movies 2012 - Day 7: A New Vision of "Naughty!"

If you've been reading my 25 Days of Christmas Movies for a few years now, you should be aware that amongst the heartwarming and relatively family friendly Christmas fare I tend to pepper my posts with films that are a little bit darker.  You've seen me talk about the psychotic Billy Linz, gremlins, Jack Skellington, and even an ax-weilding Santa Claus in the past three years so why should this year be any different?  Before I do, however, I feel I must yet again justify why I write about the darker side of Christmas.  Perhaps it is because while there is something very beautiful about snow falling silently outside, I feel that there is something quite eerie about it when it is dark out.  Or maybe I think that the pretty lights strewn across bushes and eaves (and even our own Christmas trees) cast a lovely, but dim glow that could conceal any number of horrors in dark corners.  Perhaps I just have a deranged mind and I imagine too many crazy things.  At any rate, this year we were blessed with a remake (in name mostly) of one of my favorite sleazy Christmas horror films from the 80s.  I know, I know...what won't they remake these days right?  But I never pass judgement until I see a finished product.  You never know, you might end up with a new genre classic on your hands.  So let's enjoy "the scariest damn night of the year" as we experience a Silent Night.

Aubrey Bradimore (Jamie King), a deputy in a small American town where a steel mill has closed and left a lot of people out of work.  The town has gotten rather sleazy now as people try to make ends meet.  Aubrey herself has just been left by her husband and is hoping to enjoy a Christmas at home with her family and forget about her recent trouble.  However the sheriff, James Cooper (Malcolm McDowell), calls her in to work so that she can help monitor and manage the annual Christmas parade.  However, not all is joy and Christmas cheer.  Someone in the town has donned a Santa suit and is taking revenge on all the 'naughty' people who are spoiling Christmas Eve for those who are good, an M.O. that matches the Santa of an old urban legend circulated around town.  In this legend, the a man who had been cheated on by his wife killed her and her lover with a flamethrower and then proceeded to kill anyone who was naughty.  Aubrey discovers Santa's first victims, a dismembered woman and an electrocuted man, in an old abandoned house.  Soon after a bratty child, a soft core pornographer, his assistant, and one of his models is murdered by Santa in quick succession. The police are soon faced with figuring out who this killer is in a town where almost everyone is dressed as Santa Claus for the parade and where anyone could be next.  The naughty 'better watch out' for Santa.

Silent Night's identity rests somewhere between formulaic slasher and an episode of CSI.  There is a lot of police procedure and quite a bit of detective work in this that sets it apart from the usual slasher film.  Usually the main characters in these films are teenagers and in this one, they are cops.  Actually, by making the main characters in this film cops...Silent Night rather limits it's potential for good suspense scenes.  What I mean by that is, neither of our characters is going to get into a situation where he or she gets stalked by the killer and so therefore we are forced to empathise with the victims and this is rather hard to do since they are all some of the most reprehensible people ever dreamed of.  In fact, I was cheering when some of them were butchered (the bratty 14 year old girl especially) so I couldn't find myself caring much at their chases.  The climaxing deaths were simply a means to an end.  Thankfully, there are some real doozies as far as death scenes go, including one that features a wood chipper.  The film is also one of the goriest I have seen in a while and has some delightful, "I'll-bet-Friday-the-13th-wishes-they-had-gotten-away-with-this" kinda way.  In terms of the acting, the only people not phoning it in in this movie are King and McDowell (though the latter could be debated).  Everyone else is decidedly one-note and it definately highlights the cheap factor of the film.  With a better supporting cast, this actually could be a better movie.  Not a great one by any means, but a heck of a lot more fun.  As it stands, it is a passable slasher film with a few great scenes....but you have to sit through a lot of bad acting to get through them.  If you like Christmas horror as much as I do, you should give this one a try just to see something a little different.  If you're not grazy about Christmas horror...avoid this one at all costs.  It will only make you sick.

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