Black Christmas

Black Christmas


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Saws, Chainsaws, Grudges, Ordeals and Hostels. Horror films are riding a wave right now and much has been made of their current hold on mainstream entertainment. Is this cathartic for the real horrors taking place around the world?

Whatever their contemporary relevance, they still have to be half decent to make them a bearable watch. Tosh like Black Christmas (2006) might encourage people to ask whether this bloody renaissance has had its day. Or, at least, think, "Hey! Things aren't that bad out there."

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Writer/director Glen Morgan's follow up to his 2003 curio Willard is a remake of the 1974 psycho slasher that helped establish the genre. It is a painful disappointment, in which Morgan substitutes the original styling with sub-Final Destination 3 sensibilities and some risible attempts at sounding cool and modern.

Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and half a dozen spoilt, uniformly nubile frat brats are stuck in their sorority house over Christmas, with only bitchiness and a kooky matron for company. Or so they think.

We know different, because right at the pantomime start we're introduced to Billy Lenz (Robert Mann) in a cringingly OTT asylum for the criminally insane. A loner, to say the least, he has a penchant for human flesh and being at home for Christmas. Of course, home used to be where the sorority house now stands and soon he's broken out of loony jail to get back there and it's not long before the gruesome killings start in earnest, with Billy showing a particular delight in pulling out his victims' eyeballs, like melted mozzarella.

At the beginning, with a seemingly nudge nudge, tongue-in-cheek screenplay, things aren't too bad. A heavy-handed homage to the slasher flick - it is Christmas, after all - could be in the offing and the presence of a star from the Seventies, Andrea Martin as Matron, adds to the expectation. Sadly, such hopes are quickly dashed, as the script turns out to be a right turkey, stringier than minced lettuce and bereft of any - absolutely ANY - inventiveness, or originality.

Making every character in some way dislikeable means you don't care what's going on and only Billy's flashbacked abusive childhood provides fleeting interest. None of the monotone performances stand out to any significant degree and Mann's hard work, as the serial cannibal, is completely undone by the twist that you already saw coming last Boxing Day. There are only a couple of jolts, assisted by a screamishly loud soundtrack, and as for the gore rating, it is laughable compared to other recent horror releases.

Special bile, however, is reserved for the consistent and nauseating misogyny that courses through the script. Glibly throwing in some stinking cheese about "sisterhood" in the final reel cannot redeem Morgan. He needs professional help, preferably not Matron's.

A real festive no! no! no!

Reviewed on: 05 Dec 2006
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Remake of the original festive 1974 slasher horror flick.
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Director: Glen Morgan

Writer: Glen Morgan, based on Roy Moore's 1974 screenplay

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Robert Mann, Andrea Martin, Kristen Cloke, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert Jessica Harmon, Leela Savasta, Karin Konoval

Year: 2006

Runtime: 84 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada/USA


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