Silent Night 2012 Review
Silent Night 2012
Directed by: Stephen C. Miller
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
On a SLASH above, I often analyse the stats of my visits and around this time of year, the traffic that I get on certain pages is astronomical. I guess that you’ve already worked out that those are the reviews for Home Sick, Black Christmas, To All a Goodnight, Don’t Open ’till Christmas, Home for the Holidays et al. The logic in making a festive slasher is undeniable. I mean, it’s natural that people think, ‘Hey it’s Christmas, let’s watch a themed horror movie’ and so there’s cash to be made for ambitious producers. Santa pickaxing teenagers is the perfect visual present for the advent calendar countdown.
But would such a feature truly offer the same level of entertainment in the middle of spring?
I think about this, because for me, there’s a certain stigma about watching an Xmas themed horror flick at any other time of the year. They lose their charm somewhat. I wanted to have some reviews ready to post earlier for Xmas, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to sit down and put one of them on. As soon as I read my six year-old daughter’s letter to St Nick in early December however, I was ready to rock and roll…
On Christmas Eve in a small Midwestern town, the police search for a killer Santa Claus who is picking off citizens in secluded places. As the bodies begin to pile up, it seems certain that it’s someone who knows the local inhabitants…
So I heard that Silent Night is a semi-remake of Silent Night Deadly Night. I also have no idea what semi-remake means, but after watching, I can say that it’s more of a total re-imaging. We’ve got a killer in the guise of St Nick and a few minor references (including a rehash of one of the killings), but aside from that there’s very little else that you’d recognise. The good news is that the film doesn’t need to borrow from anywhere, because as far as Christmas entries go, it’s one of the best by a country mile.
Slasher movies were as popular as bell-bottom slacks in 2012, so I was over the moon when I found out that this was being developed on a good budget. What we ended up with was proof that there’s still life in the aging recipe if you do it the right way. Steven C Miller -who had previously given us the underrated TV Movie, Scream of the Banshee – does a wonderful job in the hot seat and delivers us a juggernaut of slasher fun that rips and roars it’s way through a slick runtime of thrills.
He doesn’t hang around to introduce audacious killings as the film’s vocal point. Our maniac is on screen from the opening minute and he doesn’t stay away for long thereafter. We are treated to goo by the bucket load, including a gruesome scene where a girl is dismembered and then pushed into a timber cutter. Although her screams of pain are disturbing, the film avoids being too mean-spirited by giving us a reason to dislike the victims before their demise. We also get a head split with an axe, lopped off fingers and a couple of frantic chase scenes before the inevitable money shot. Even if the script looks to be set up like a standard slasher, it works so that we never really know what could happen next and there’s a fine blend of tension in the unravelling of the Police investigation.
I was impressed by the way that the plot breaks the unwritten slasher code with its revelation of the psychopath’s identity, but it all made sense in the end. Jamie King’s Aubrey Bradimore is a tough, likeable and brave heroine that reminds of the ones of old and she delivers by far the best performance of the pack. McDowell is hammy as hell as the sheriff, but he gets the job done and overall the dramatics are suitable for the content. Screenwriter Jayson Rotwell deserves a thumbs up for some memorable dialogue and if lines such as, ‘Don’t put Avocado on the burger’ can’t grab your attention then you’re surely not in tune with the overall mood. Donal Logue, who plays one of the key suspects, gets a strong scene with King in which he talks about why so many people go crazy around the festive period. He highlights that Christmas has become more of a blue-chip marketing tool than a religious celebration and it’s an interesting point that caught my attention.
The final showdown is set-up in an Argento-esque haze of red lights and sprinklers that creates an impressive tone of isolation. Even if the heroine gets a convenient route to escape (she just happened to land next to a loaded weapon), the suspense that surrounds the outcome means that we can easily forgive a bit of unlikely fortune for the good guys. It climaxes with a chance that we haven’t seen the final chapter in this story and let’s keep our fingers crossed that there is still belief amongst financiers that this is a franchise that has legs.
I seriously can’t give Silent Night any higher praise than saying that it’s a perfect tribute to the pictures of old. I was left wanting more and I’m hopeful that there will be other projects in the pipeline that can follow this example.
Slasher films of late seem to have forgotten that they ought to be gory, outrageous and fun. Miller’s entry is the perfect example of these three elements and for that it deserves to be seen. There was criticism that it didn’t bring anything new to the table, but with so many failed attempts at updating the template, I for one was just relieved to see things done the right way.
Final Girl √√√√