Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Silent Night (A Shitmas Post from JP Wendel of Death Blog)

You know something that's always bugged me about Christmas movies? I'll tell you; it's always bothered me that every holiday film is blanketed in 6 inches of snow. I live in the Deep South where snow is simply not something that happens, and watching these movies kinda feels like having our collective noses rubbed in that fact. It sucks that instead of our lights reflecting across fresh powder, we have to settle for them twinkling dully against dead, brown grass and dozens of mud puddles. Silent Night, the remake of beloved killer Santa cult classic Silent Night Deadly Night (no, I don't know why they dropped the second half of the title), perfectly captures this landscape of melancholy despite taking place in the far and distant land of snowy Michigan. 

Anyway, plot won't unfold itself I suppose, so here we go. It's Christmas Eve here in Anytown, USA when the small and useless police, including quirky (we know this because she enjoys crossword puzzles) protagonist Jamie King, Cheif Malcolm McDowell with the Crazy Dial set up on Full-Tilt Boogie, and some other people not worth mentioning, are all called in and put on high alert. It seems someone in a Santa suit and an entire suitcase full of identical creepy Santa masks (that's called efficiency people. Einstien use to do something similar...with clothes, not creepy Santa masks) has been running around offing people he deems "naughty." To be fair though, he also rewards people who are "nice" so it seems to be a fair trade-off once you meet some of these human trash piles. Just to make things a bit harder on our intrepid crime stoppers, the town's annual Santa contest/parade has dozens of faux-Santas from all over the state hanging around. As far as plot goes, that's about it. There's also some big "twist" towards the end that has to do with a local legend and a secret being kept by King's incredibly cute ex-cop dad, but they spend so little time with it it just seems to come out of nowhere and makes no real sense.

This is one of those movies that doesn't seem to know what it wants to do with itself. The tone varies wildly like from camp to serious and back again like the writers and director were trying to have their fruitcake and eat it too (Aside: I've never understood that saying, it seems perfectly reasonable to want to eat a cake that you have). A great example comes toward the start of the film when an evil little bitch of a tween is electrocuted by Killer Santa with a cattle prod, then later we see her mother in such intense grief it's a little hard to watch. Look, director Steven Miller, man behind the abysmal Scream of the Banshee and Automaton Transfusion, you can't half-ass camp. That's one of the many reasons Snakes on a Plane was awful. You either go full on or not at all. It's like trying to tell a racist joke without offending anyone, it's not funny and it ends up just making you look more racist (I’m looking at you, Glee). You can't show a girl participating in what has to be the saddest porn shoot ever being ground up in a woodchipper then try to give the killer dressed as Kris fucking Kringle pathos! It just doesn't work.
I know it seems as though I hated this movie, but that's really not the case. In fact, I like this movie more now than I did when it first came out last year. I actually liked most of Mr. Miller's directing choices...even though I did accidentally call him a racist up in that above paragraph. I also really dug the sheer amount of different deaths, everything from Christmas lights to flame throwers to Santa's meaty mitts were used here to bloody good effect. The acting from the admittedly impressive cast is also really good, despite half the actors trying to play up the camp while the other half is trying to play serious.

I guess the most important question to ask is "Did I enjoy watching this?" The answer is yes, yes I did. Despite the tone problems, I do think this is one of the best slashers to come down the gore-slicked tube in quite a while. All in all I'd give Silent Night 7 out of 10 montages of Killer Santa suiting up like he's goddamn Batman.
- JP Wendel

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