Tis the season to be jolly! Or so they say. Those people probably didn’t sit down to watch this horror holiday themed film. If they had, they’d be looking for something to perk them right up! Some sort of spiked drink, or just go straight to the source. Perhaps even time with family of all sorts, it’s certainly gotta be better than what’s contained within this 84 minute film. If not, then nothing will do the trick, and you may as well give up on Christmas and the holidays altogether.
The Dimension Films film “Black Christmas” is far worse than I remembered and should be avoided at all costs, unless a mindless, idiotic story with gratuitous blood and gore tickles your fancy.
This horror film stars Katie Cassidy (“Arrow”, “Vixen”), Michelle Trachtenberg (“Sister Cities”, “The Christmas Gift”), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (upcoming season “Mercy Street”, “BrainDead”), Oliver Hudson (“Scream Queens”, “Journey Back to Christmas”), Lacey Chabert (“Shimmer and Shine”, “A Wish for Christmas”), Kristen Cloke (“Pretty Little Liars”, “Men of a Certain Age”), and Andrea Martin (“Hairspray Live!”, “Difficult People”).
The film was written and directed by Glen Morgan (“The X-Files”, “Willard”).
The film originally opened on Dec. 25, 2006.
I thought I was prepared for this, but I really was not. And now, after the film’s over, I’m beginning to wonder if there would’ve ever been a way to properly prepare for this awful remake. I knew it’d be bad, as I saw it some time ago, but I guess I’d forgotten just how low this film sinks. It doesn’t even try to be anything other than a film that’s a few notches below that of a “Torture Porn” film. I honestly don’t think there’s anything redeeming about this. That being said, I couldn’t pass it up for two reasons. First, as the title suggests (which they all do when preceded with “10 Years”), it’s 10 years old today; second, it’s a Christmas themed film. How could I not watch it?! I love holiday films! While some, more often than not, don’t live up to whatever expectations I have, it’s somehow fun to sit and watch a holiday film. I guess it really is all about the holiday spirit and getting into it.
In the case of this film, it has to be the holiday spirit. It’s not about the scares. For that to be a thing, there would first have to be scares. There are none. Why? Because this film is not scary. What this film is, is populated with lazy jump scares and not a trace of suspense. It’s everything you’d come to expect in 2006, and sadly still see today. And if that wasn’t sad enough to type, think, or realize, yet again, this film just proves the exact reason people hate remakes, especially horror remakes. I believe Kevin Williamson (“Scream”) said it best in 2011 with “Scream 4”, as it concerns remakes, “Don’t fuck with the original.” Sadly, at about this time in the world of horror, that’s exactly what happened time and again, even though it began a few years earlier but in smaller doses, and as far as I can tell this trend got worse and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. At least the world stopped getting shitty Asian horror remakes, or some other foreign horror remake. Unfortunately it was all too little too late.
Since focusing on scares wasn’t a priority, you’d think something else would be that would make this film worth anyone’s time. That didn’t happen either. This film’s focus was on overly obnoxious violence and gratuitous blood and gore. In the end, it serves no one. There’s no benefit. No reward. All it is, is one excessive gross out sequence after another, each seeming to try and outdo the last, but really all it made me do was question my decision making skills. I’m fine, as are others, I’m sure, with blood and gore and violence, but it needs to be effective and have a purpose. In order to be, there needs to be some sort of effort put in. If you want to genuinely scare your audience, do that! Even with what this film offered, which still could’ve been infinitely more and better, there were plenty of opportunities to actually scare people. You’d think that would be possible as this is a remake of a pretty obscure horror film from the ‘70s. I truly wonder how many people had heard of the original film before this remake. Probably not many. It’s like “The Stepfather (2009)” all over again. Another disappointment in a long line of many.
While these disappointing aspects make for a lackluster film, that’s okay, and not, as the people all of this is happening to, are as interesting as watching snowmen (or women) sit outside someone’s house. There’s no reason to give a damn about them at all. Worse, most of the women and other minor character’s aren’t that smart, so they don’t really have much going for them anyway. Even the select few women who do show some actual intelligence, and not just the kind that kicks in at a convenient moment, as if the thought of survival is something that just occurred to them, manage to make dumb choices and fuck everything up, including their ability to survive.
It’s mostly luck, but even then, can you really call the actor’s in this film lucky? Making this aspect of the film even worse is the fact that with most of the other character’s, the one’s who shouldn’t have been needed in the first place, they just made dumb decisions to push the plot along. Seriously lazy writing is to blame. For instance, the big one, which really just irritated me to no end, and even after the credits and right now, which means I’m still pissed. One of the guards at the sanitarium says that Billy tries to escape every year. Okay, good to know. So, if that’s the case, then why would you allow yourself to be tricked, in any way, shape or form, by the man whom you just said tries this every year? Why would you think walking alone into his cell would be a good idea? Well, not as a spoiler, but as the obvious, this doesn’t go so well for the guard or anyone else who encounters Billy. If you aren’t looking to be held by the hand and led through a film, you should pick a different one to watch.
The one area of this film, that should’ve made it somewhat redeemable and enjoyable, but maybe not by much, was the way the story unfolded. A lot of times, which itself is surprising, I can look past the cliché and the lazy, particularly if it's been done in some way that comes across as even slightly fresh and original, but here, it just stands out even more. There wasn’t even a need for a flashing neon sign.
The problem lies with the unnecessary use of flashbacks for Billy’s story. If these flashbacks hadn’t been used or had been used better, then it could’ve also (perhaps) made the film worth it and rewarding. However, because Morgan did what he did, all he ended up doing was fucking up the pacing big time! Talk about whiplash. One moment you’re in a potential suspense horror, and the next your being spoon fed every aspect of the film that would be used later as “surprises” or “twists”, of which they could never truly be. He might as well have thrown in commercials, at least those would’ve been fun. And as a bonus!, this is also where the film overall took on many more cliché aspects. What we typically see in horror films, remakes or otherwise. As an added insult, perhaps just because of the time this film was made and the subsequent 10 years, the fact that there was no logical explanation for the killings, is just annoying. I get some killers don’t need an explanation, or even a backstory at all, but this film never felt like that or deserved to have that freedom.
The holiday horror film can be fun and terrible at the same time. While you know it’s more terrible than fun, it’s impossible to stay away. That being said, viewers are still deserving of good holiday horror, or at least ones that are truly fun to watch or hate watch. If not, then why do it? It’s like with Lifetime or SyFy Original Movies, there needs to be even the slightest something that makes watching them fun. If you can do that, there’s no end to how enjoyable a film can be.