Yesterday, I finally mustered the courage to watch the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. And while the movies in the original trilogy are some of my favourites, I was pleasantly surprised by it. So why not give another remake from the same time? And there’s nothing like a festive Christmas movie for the Halloween season, right? Hello, Silent Night.
I happened to stumble upon Silent Night and it’s Wisconsin location by pure accident. This weekend, I forced my husband to watch Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (which, even though he’s much more into film than I ever will be had never seen). He questioned me about Malcolm McDowell and what movies he had been in lately, so I checked out the actor’s IMDB page. When I saw Silent Night, I secretly hoped it would be a Christmas pageant movie staring McDowell as a mall Santa, but alas, this is a loose remake of the of 1984 cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Now that I’m in week 25 of this (it really does just keep going), I automatically looked at where this movie was set. It’s not a compulsion. Don’t get me wrong, I love campy, gory b-movies, but there was always something about Silent Night, Deadly Night that never quite sat right with me. It took me many years to finally sit through the entire film. And I’ve never watched any of the sequels either. But it’s Malcolm McDowell, so I had to give this a shot.
This 2012 movie begins with (of course) a “unsettling” version of the Christmas tune “Up on the House Top”. There’s a man shaving and a girl bound and gagged on a mattress, clearly in distress, but I already don’t care what happens to her because the camera then cuts to the man cutting his fingernails. This might be just a minor thing in the grand scheme of this 90-minute movie, but HOLY WOW does that fingernail clipping make my skin crawl. The man dresses in his full Santa gear before electrocuting a man to death who is covered in Christmas lights. Bonus points for colourful creativity.
Enter Deputy Aubrey Baltimore (Jaime King) who works with Sheriff
McDowell Cooper. The Sheriff is requesting that Aubrey go in to work the Christmas Eve shift, despite this being her first Christmas without “John”. As with the original, there is plenty of Catholic undertones – creepy priests and the lot. Aubrey is sent to do all the crap work of the day. She first deals with a naughty Santa. But the next site she has to check out, offers something that will probably ruin her Christmas. She heads into the basement of an old house to find the fried man from earlier in the film. Oh and he just happens to be her fellow deputy.
Interspersed with the main plot are several gruesome deaths from dear old Santa. Each victim is pretty rotten: a spoiled girl, a cheating couple, a pornographer. He’s a serial killer who kills for the better of the world, right? But with the body count quickly rising, it doesn’t take too long before the police force is pulled in every direction.
Aubrey finds a Santa by the real-name of Karsson sitting alone in a pub. He tells her the legend of a man who dressed as Santa to kill his cheating wife. Karsson is their first lead, who they suspect is their “Mister Snow,” but he gets away. Aubrey and Cooper run about town chasing the wrong Santa time and time again. Neither very good at this whole police work thing. But the ending doesn’t deliver too many surprises. The last 20 or 30 minutes are mostly running around the town getting their Santas wrong or picking up on clues way too late. There are plenty of death scenes to wet your blood-appetite if that’s what you’re into. But it’s those last few minutes included that were entirely unnecessary. Maybe someone forgot to edit them in so they thought it would be a great summary?
Silent Night pretty much delivers what you’d expect. While it doesn’t have too much in common with the original other than a homicidal Santa and a few references to the first film, the movie still stands pretty well on its own. The only thing that really bothered me the entire time watching this film. It just doesn’t look like Christmas. Certainly not a Midwestern one anyway. This was even shot in Canada and they get plenty of snow. So I don’t know why this was filmed in what looked like April. But anyway, Silent Night is pretty grim, but there’s still a few things to like about this movie. For one, McDowell and King both give great performances. McDowell is clearly off his nut and having a blast with his role. And for the first half of the movie, the pacing is pretty good.
I don’t think this will replace the classic Black Christmas or even the original as anyone’s favourite festive horror movie, but it’s a pretty solid entry into that very small category. I suppose mildly-enjoying two remakes in one week probably makes me a bad person now or something.