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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Dis List: Silent Night (2012) review


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.


Jay Shatzer said...

Damn Brian! Hahaha! I just watched this one over the weekend and actually had fun with it. It's ridiculous for all the reason you've already mentioned, but I thought that it had a sort of sleazy charm that I quite got a kick out of. Definitely not a great film in any aspect of the word, but it entertained me and that was all I was hoping to get out of the experience. Enjoyed the write-up though and keep up the great work! Also loved the Mos Eisley reference. It fits perfectly for the town.

Kaijinu said...

Really? I thought it was pretty good. Not the best thing out there, but a pretty fair shot. Guess I was trying to see it as a movie on its own, rather than a remake, kept my expectation low and, well, loved it.

Seen it three times actually. must be me...

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

I'm planning to check it out on Christmas Eve. I expected it to be dumb, but I still wanna see it.

Will back to read your review, after I give it a go. ;)

Christopher said...

Lady Buhgina,
chidren at your doorstep.
Wonder how you manage to take one more step.

venoms5 said...

@ Jay: Lol. I think I went in with too high expectations. It looked pretty good from the trailer. Boy, was a summarily disappointed. This was the movie I went to Wal Mart for, and it was the one I liked the least. Thank you for the kind remarks! I see you've been busy and I have even more catching up to do!

@ Kaijinu: I was seeing it on its own, too, I just thought it was a poorly realized, sloppy movie pretty much from the time it started to the time it finished. Tne way it ends, I got the impression the makers may have been going for a sequel or two.

@ George: I hope you like it more than I did. Thankfully I didn't spend but $10 on it. The images I saw of it looked good, but I was sorely disappointed with the end result. Within 30 minutes, I'd pretty much lost interest in it, but stuck it out hoping it would get better.

Maynard Morrissey said...

Just finished watching and fully agree with you - HUMBUG! It's as lame and dumb as all the other movies from that hack Steven C Miller. Cardboard characters, predictable plot and a super-terrible McDowell. Blech.
Review on Sunday.

venoms5 said...

LOL. Reviews for it have been popping up a lot on blogger the last few days, Harry. I thought I was beginning to think I was the only one that didn't like it, lol.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

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