Sunday, December 16, 2012


Directed by Steven C. Miller

Here's a concept for you: guy dressed as Santa Claus, around Christmas time, killing people. You hear that and think "You'd have to be an idiot to fuck that up!"

And yet, for five films, the filmmakers of the original Silent Night, Deadly Night series did just that. The first film is regarded as something of a "classic," but I think that has more to do with nostalgia and also people remembering something the movie is not. And aside from the infamous and memorable "GARBAGE DAY!!!" sequence from Part 2 (CLICK HERE TO SEE IT!!), the original franchise is a tiny, uncooked Christmas goose, not worthy of even Bob Cratchit and his poor family.

Here is one franchise that was read for a reboot/remake/whatever. So how did they do? Well, it's not a total catastrophe! That's something!

For one thing, the film looks pretty professional, and director Steven C. Miller must have been watching a ton of J.J. Abrams stuff before he sat down in the director's chair, because there are lens flares all over this thing.

SILENT NIGHT takes place in a town where apparently everyone is a fucking jerk-off. There are creepy, pervert priests; there are disgruntled Santa's who make kids cry; there are pornographers and cocaine addicts; and there is lazy town sherif, played by lazy actor Malcolm McDowell.

Jamie King stars as Aubrey, a deputy getting over the loss of her husband. She's nervous on the job, which is bad timing, because some crazy man in a Santa Claus suit is killing people in town. He appears to be killing "naughty" people, like a really bratty little girl, and people committing adultery and so on. However, the filmmakers seem to abandon this plot point, because soon our killer Santa is killing everyone in sight, naughty or nice.

The movie is kind of a mess. There's a strange plot-line that appears in the middle of the film about man in the past who ALSO dressed as Santa and killed a bunch of people with a flame thrower. Then there's Aubrey's uncertainty with her job. At one point she's even visited by what I can only assume is the ghost of her dead husband, dressed in a Santa suit. It's weird. Most likely there were half a dozen different drafts of the screenplay, and they just did a little pick-n-choose and hoped they all stuck.

Malcolm McDowell ponders: "What the fuck happened to my career?"
The movie does have its saving graces. The gore-factor is top notch, and I appreciate that they used a lot of practical effects rather than just CGI blood and gore. The Santa costume, with its clear mask, is actually pretty creepy looking. And the film doesn't pull punches; people die in nasty ways.

But there's no heart or soul at play here. If a filmmaker with passion had tackled this film, even with its messy screenplay, we could've ended up with something near-perfect. But Steven C. Miller seems to just be going through the motions, moving from point A to point B in dull procession.

Characters come and go, popping up from time to time to make the audience say "Oh yeah, that guy..."; the ending "plot-twist" is pointless; the town looks like an obvious studio backlot. And then there's that whole "naughty or nice" angle. Early in the film, there are several scenes where killer Santa will dispatch some rude asshole, and spare some "innocent" person nearby. Okay, that's fine. But then they forget all about that, and soon Santa is going after the Mayor, who seemed like a nice guy, and the cute police station dispatch girl, who also seems pretty nice. What's your deal, Santa? Make up your goddamn mind. 

Also, Jamie King is a cute actress and she's clearly trying, but she gives a pretty bad performance here, and is incapable of carrying a film. At one point she comes across the corpse of someone very very close to her and her "horrified" reaction is laughable.

But, any film that features a scene like this can't be all bad:

SILENT NIGHT is a not an awful film. It has its moments, and its certainly more enjoyable than any of the films from the original franchise (GARBAGE DAY!! scene excluded, of course). You could do a lot worse when it comes to Killer Santa movies. However, with such a seemingly good concept, it still baffles me that no one has managed to get it right yet.


         TWO NOGS out of FOUR

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