Friday, December 14, 2012
The Dis List: Silent Night (2012) review
SILENT NIGHT 2012
Jaime King (Aubrey Bradimore), Malcolm McDowell (Sheriff Cooper), Brendan Fehr (Deputy Jordan)
Directed by Steven C. Miller
The police force in a small Wisconsin town try to stop a serial killer in a Santa Claus outfit who has a yearly affinity for traveling from one town to the next slaughtering seedy individuals, both young and old.
The Short Version: Yet another remake -- and poorly conceived at that -- is vying for your money this holiday season before adorning the bottom of those cheap bins at Wal Mart's across the nation. This Ho-Ho-Hokum has a killer Santa who keeps giving the gift that keeps on killing at five and ten minute intervals. It's a terminally stupid, plotless movie with some of the shakiest camerawork in the west in addition to being something of a remake (reimagining?) of the mean-spirited 80s slasher favorite, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984). Compared to that film, this Bad Santa's second rate slay ride sucks Jingle Balls.
About thirty minutes into this shit covered Christmas fruitcake, I pondered shutting it off, but figured I'd soldier on in the hopes it would get better -- it didn't -- which is a shame, as this movie was one of the more eagerly awaited remakes on my list. The "in" thing these days (particularly for horror filmmakers) is to remake any older film, whether said vintage movie warranted it or not. The original SNDN is often considered a mediocre movie, yet I think it's one of the best slashers of the post 1983 boom. There's been an alarming number of them these last ten years with some hits and a lot of misses. SILENT NIGHT falls squarely into the latter category.
Aside from two scenes, this production isn't even remotely similar to Charles Sellier's controversial movie. This new Killer Chris Kringle flick gives nods to other Christmas-centric and 80s Santa slayers like BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974), SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 2 (1987) and even BAD SANTA (2003) of all things.
One of these two scenes consists of a remake of the originals creepy grandpa opening sequence (only this new one comes later in the picture). For this new movie, it feels intrusive and serves no purpose but to acknowledge the '84 film. In a way, the awkward nature this and other scenes are inserted makes sense considering SILENT NIGHT often feels like it was put together by an editor who drank a little too much egg nog.
The acting in this sequence -- like a lot of it in this movie -- is laughable and almost feels like a bad MAD TV skit. The character featured is only seen twice: here, and also as part of the second scene cloned from the original.
This other scene involves a pair of deer antlers. The big difference here is the actress is clothed when she's hung up on the wall. This scene is also stupid in that the actress makes a big deal over thinking her boyfriend has gotten from one room to the next without her seeing him; yet somehow or other the killer manages to beam himself from INSIDE the bathroom, to hiding BEHIND the bathroom door without either of them seeing him in plain view.
Nods to the stock footage heavy SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 2 are also gift wrapped and ready for those with that hilarious sequel on their wishlist. These include an electrocution death that's accomplished miserably by no doubt the best in computer "technology". The other being a reference to "Garbage Day".
The best thing about this holiday horror-ible movie is the look of the killer with his creepy plastic mask. But the filmmakers are bound and determined to screw that up, too. With all the blood spraying around, this renegade Santa either frequents the laundromat between takes, or he has a Batman closet filled with red and white Santa suits.
The scenes where our homicidal Saint Nick torches victims with a flamethrower are howler worthy as well. The CG'ed fire shots are real knee-slappers, too. The outfits of certain characters must be made of some Titanium alloy, futuristic fireproof material. The camera lingers on more than one occasion showing clothes that stubbornly refuse to burn (see insert). I smell a future infomercial hosted by an easily excited Australian guy.
The death scenes are equally insulting such as the killer chasing a half-naked woman in broad daylight and NOBODY sees her, nor are there any cars or signs of life anywhere. In reality, if a half-naked, lingerie clad woman is bouncing around up and down the street, doors are gonna open and the probability of traffic accidents increase dramatically.
This naughty girl runs onto a lot selling Christmas trees and nobody's around there, either. Granted, there's a sign that says 'gone to the parade', but again, it's as barren as an Italian post apocalyptic movie here. It's virtually I AM LEGEND territory till the victim is disposed of in a scene generously aided by some shitty CGI. So three cheers and a yay for crappy effects work.
Another scene has a little girl snuffed out -- again in clear day time hours and with her mother in the house. The death of this child (an incredibly obnoxious little girl, mind you) is never mentioned again till later in the film well after the sun has went down. Why there's this huge time gap is anyone's guess. Now on to the performers.
One familiar face emerges as the films sole bright spot... and it ain't Malcolm McDowell.
Jaime King is no stranger to horror remakes. She's starred in two of the best -- MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009) and MOTHER'S DAY (2010). She delivers the only believable performance in this nonsensical remake, despite being given bread and water to work with. Her police officer character mopes around the entire film teetering close to a breakdown, yet we never find out what her deal is till the very last scene in what amounts to another late-blooming stroke of editorial genius.
The actress somehow shines through it all, even making Malcolm McDowell almost look like an amateur by comparison. She even manages to keep a straight face when McDowell utters lines like "Don't put avocado on the burger!"
McDowell's character is written as if Rob Zombie's Dr. Loomis has now taken a job as the sheriff in a small Wisconsin town. He gets increasingly nuttier as the film plods along. Speaking of Rob Zombie, you'd swear he did a rewrite on this yuletide mush. The dialog also imitates Zombie's "style" with some truly atrocious lines. Seemingly everybody in this town are rude, lack class and the slightest hint of good manners.
For whatever reason, the killing of characters the audience feels for is alien to scriptwriters for these modern horror films. When you only write uninteresting, emotionally defunct, or outrageously callous characters (such as the expletive spouting, materialistic little girl) to be killed by your star killer, you strip the 'horror' right out of the film leaving only a string of gory "money shots" to gauge the films entertainment value.
Speaking of this small town, exactly why in the hell do they need a dozen or so Santa's walking around? From the look of Cryer, Wisconsin, it's no bigger than Mayberry, North Carolina. Not only is there a small army of Santa's, but for such a tiny town, there's this Mos Eisley level of scum and villainy populating the hamlet such as porn filmmakers and drug dealers.
Other than the killer's cool costume, the photography is nice to look at aside from an annoying blue beam of light that acts as some form of censorship during some of the kill scenes. There's also a jarring level of what has popularly become known as "shaky cam". There's moments in this film where it looks like the cameraman was having a sugar fit, but kept filming anyways.
SILENT NIGHT is one of these sloppily compiled horror movies that gets by with easily pleased fans who only seek some gory killings. There's really only one truly spectacular effect in this movie and most of the others are bland, or proudly wear their CGI origins on their sleeves. SILENT NIGHT is akin to one of those presents you get from your crazy relative, or Mother-In-Law covered in cheap wrapping paper that you ultimately end up passing on to somebody else.
This review is representative of the Anchor Bay DVD.