Silent Night (2012)

Silent Night is a quasi-remake of the 1984 cult classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which - I'll be the first to admit - I really need to see. Not that I really want to see it, mind you, but it's probably one of the more significant holiday films I've yet to get around to.

At any rate, let's talk about the 2012 version, which - judging by the plot synopsis I just skimmed for the 84 - is probably is more of an homage than a remake. The only scene that reads the same is one where the killer impales a woman on deer antlers.

To be fair, that accounts for a good 20% of the plot.

Or, to put it another way, this movie is light on substance. The premise is pretty much summed up in the movie poster: killer Santa. The one innovation present is setting the killing spree during a "Santa parade", making it virtually impossible for the police to identify a suspect. That should have been an interesting twist to a cliched formula, but they didn't really use it to its potential.

The killer, whose background was hinted at in a mid-movie monologue borrowing from a 2008 crime, was expanded on in a flashback at the end. Short version is a kid witnessed his father dress up as Santa, murder his mother and others at a Christmas party, then get gunned down by the police.

Oh, yeah - belated spoiler alert or something. Though, frankly, I didn't really ruin anything. The killer's motive is superfluous: he doesn't have any kind of meaningful personality, so what does it matter? Ultimately, he's treated as a quasi-supernatural force who just kind of shows up and murders a bunch of people. Camera cuts away before we see how he escapes without being noticed (I don't care if there are 500 Santas in town: he's the only one covered in blood), and the whole thing starts again.

When we're not watching him impale, chop, stab, or - in one rather excessive sequence - shove a nearly naked woman through a wood-chipper, we mostly follow around Deputy Aubrey Bradimore, the daughter of the cop who killed the murderer's father (again, we don't learn this until the very end of the movie). She lost her husband at some point (no real explanation provided), she loves her father, and she doubts her ability to do her job. There's sort of a subplot centering around another criminal dressed as Santa she ends up shooting in self-defense, but... who cares?

Tonally, the movie waffles between dark comedy and gruesome horror. With only a few exceptions, the victims are shown to either be vapid, horrible people who deserve their fates, or young women who are sexually active. Either of those will get you killed in this (or most) horror movies.

Malcolm McDowell appears in this - Jesus, he really must have needed some cash in Christmas 2012 - as the sheriff. The part is written and performed as comic relief, as is the movie's cartoonishly sleazy priest. Neither of them make it, surprising no one.

Prior to the flashback, there's a showdown between the Audrey and the killer in the police station, which Audrey wins, because the movie has to end sometime. He's basically an unstoppable killing machine up until that point, then he suddenly can't swing a damn ax.

He actually lives, despite being badly burned. The police station burns down, but Audrey gets herself and the dispatcher out alive. Small victories, I guess.

The movie isn't badly shot, and the production values imply it had a decent budget. But I found it about as boring as a movie can be when a character dies horrifically every ten minutes or so. This style of humor doesn't appeal to me, but then I'm not really a big fan of the genre, particularly when it feels this by-the-numbers.

Christmas slashers have been done to death: if you're making another, you really need to either offer something unique, something perfected, or you need to subvert expectations. This pulls off none of that: it's bland and generic.

If you absolutely love slasher movies, you can probably do worse - it pulled a (relatively) impressive 64% on Rotten Tomatoes from the eleven critics who bothered to write about it - but no one else should waste their time.