On a yearly basis, Hollywood tries to profit from the holidays. This year, Tinsletown released The Santa Clause 3, Unaccompanied Minors, Deck the Halls, The Nativity Story, and The Holiday for the seasonal viewing pleasures of families everywhere...
Then -- on Christmas Day -- came Black Christmas, a holiday film for people who were bored as Santa battled Jack Frost and yawned as Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem on a donkey. For audiences like us, there could be nothing more joyous than watching annoying sorority chicks getting diced to pieces on Christmas break by an inbred psychopath.
I might need serious psychiatric help for admiring a movie as grotesque and gratuitous as this, but at least I didn't make it. Writer/director Glen Morgan has way too much fun with this remake of the 1974 film... and that's a good thing. Move over The Descent, Black Christmas is the guilty pleasure horror film of the year!
Meet Billy (Robert Mann), a man with a turbulent childhood. In addition to being abused by his mother (Karin Konoval) as a young boy, she cheated on his father (Peter Wilds) regularly. Eventually, she killed him and locked Billy in the attic while starting a new family with her lover (Howard Siegel). After she had an inbred daughter named Agnes (Dean Friss), Billy escaped from the attic and murdered mom and her lover.
That all happened years ago. Today, Billy is locked away in a mental institution, never to be released.
Billy's childhood house is now occupied by eight sorority sisters (Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Jessica Harmon, Leela Savasta, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Harmon, and Michelle Trachtenberg) and their house mother (Andrea Martin). During a nasty storm on Christmas break, they find themselves being threatened by mysterious phone calls from a man claiming to be Billy himself. It isn't long before heads start to roll...
Usually, genuinely scary slasher films need high body counts, creative death sequences, and victims that actually defend themselves against their attackers. This seems like common sense, but slasher film don't often remember these basic ideas. Black Christmas delivers in most of these areas. With eight sorority sisters and several supporting characters, there are plenty of young, supple bodies to hack up. By the end, few characters are still breathing.
The death sequences aren't particularly creative (although Ice Princess' Trachtenberg has a farewell that's as tongue-in-cheek as they come), and some of the violence is lackluster with amateur cinematography and poor choreography. But relentless gore and intriguing storytelling compensate for what Black Christmas doesn't quite nail.
More than anything, the film's attitude is what makes for so much fun. Black Christmas maintains a morbid, over-the-top sense of humor about itself that makes the movie as much a black comedy as a horror film. As bloody intestines quietly fall down the branches of a decorated Christmas tree, a gleeful holiday song emerges from the soundtrack, and we can't help but laugh in disgust and disbelief as Black Christmas concludes. Behold, audiences, the most audacious and unlikely great horror movie in years!