Black Christmas Review
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Plot:A remake of Bob Clark's 1974 slasher film where a killer terrorizes a sorority house full of young girls during christmas break.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead,
My Thoughts:Christmas themed mayhem for the whole family!
Review:It's hard to tell if "Black Christmas" was a horror movie made to be an actual horror movie, or if it was a horror movie made to be the anti to the Christmas holiday. At any rate, the film succeeds in being both, all the while doing everything it can to satisfy the blood and gorehounds who like their horror movies to be really really nasty. The film starts off with a death of one of the sorority girls before the title "Black Christmas" is quickly splattered across the screen. Soon we're introed into the local nuthouse where an assortment of loonies reside, including the infamous Billy Lenz...who has been placed in a holding cell along with a Christmas tree. We're also told that Billy has tried to escape every Christmas since he was locked up, but on this particular Christmas he manages to succeed. How? Well being who I am, a person who likes the smart intelligent escapes of characters like Michael Myers...the scene where Billy manages to escape his room succeeds and fails. The method in which he manages to fool the guard is quite laughable. Mostly because one has to wonder how a person who's tagged with the duty of looking after the criminally insane can be so dumb. But the scene is also really cool because of the way Billy ends up murdering this guy. "Black Christmas" moves at a very franetic pace. It's a very quick paced movie, which is evident when we are introduced to the house full of sorority girls who don't stay on camera long enough for the viewer to get really acquainted with them. I guess in a film like this where most of the leading ladies are all young up and coming stars...everyone has to get equal screentime, and stiffing one girl out of too much screentime wouldn't have sat very well with their handlers or them themselves. Glen Morgan does do an excellent job of making the ladies stand out though. This happens for two reasons, one they all are very different looking from one another. Mostly brunette's with a few blondes sprinkled among them. Second, each girl has a very different persona. Mary Winstead's character Heather is the outcast, disliked by most of the girls because of her southern roots, Lacey Chabert's character Dana is the sometimes bitch, while Crystal Lowe's character of Lauren is the snobby high maintenance one who loves to drink. Most of the other girls are fodder characters who don't get much screentime, and then there's Michelle Trachtenberg's character Melissa and Katie Cassidy's character Kelli who could probably pass for the nice girls of the house. Morgan makes sure his star 5 all have contrasting personalities which makes their interaction with each other pretty amusing and fun to watch at times. They're all watched over by Andrea Martin's character Mrs. Mac, the sorority house mother. Martin who was in the original "Black Christmas" as Phyllis Carlson...does an excellent job in her cameo here in the remake. She's a very entertaining character to watch, posessing a certain charm and likeability factor that would make one hope strongly she's one of the films survivors when it's all said and done. The only guy in the film is Kyle, played by Oliver Hudson. His character doesn't get much screentime but does factor into an important subplot within the movie, where he's two-timing one of the girls in the house with one of her own sorority sisters. There's also a funny bit involving a paused internet video on someone's computer which ties into this whole subplot as well. I won't give it away, but it's pretty funny. Morgan's script is a very smart one, mixing together alot of different twists and plot directions which keep the viewer guessing despite the fact hat we know Billy Lenz is the killer. Not only does "Black Christmas" spend the early portion of the film, going from present to past, telling the twisted. gruesome, and sad story of Billy Lenz's childhood..but also a few of the fodder girls are being picked off, and the question is...if Billy's still working on escaping the local nuthouse, then who's the one doing the slicing and dicing back at the sorority house?? Ah...the plot thickens! Morgan even gives us a few red-herring's as to who the second killer could be, including Kyle, and one of the more *odder* sorority sisters of the house. Once Billy makes it out of the local insane asylum, the body count begins to pile up and "Black Christmas" finally kicks into high gear! Sadly, this is also where Morgan's script suffers for many reasons. Number one, while the deaths are certainly brutal, they are quite repetitive. I mean how many times can we see someone get their eyes pulled out??? Or have a bag yanked over their head before having their eyes pulled out?? You get the feeling that Glen Morgan has an eye fetish because I can only remember one or maybe two characters in the film whose deaths don't include losing their eyes or having their eyes damaged in some capacity. These never ending eye-gauging assaults eventually render each new death ineffective. But despite the repetitive kills, the film still delivers in suspense and action and mostly because of the sorority house itself, which is a great set piece and is very effective in creating tense and chiling scenarios. Not only is it very large, but the killers use the house as a way of capturing their prey. Poking holes in the wall, or removing small tiles or floorboards so that they can keep an eye on everyone without giving away their whereabouts. The situation of a dark house with numerous corpses hidden within it, panicked sorority girls dwindling in numbers, a raging snowstorm on the outside, and hawkish killers moving about the attic and inside the walls taking out people one by one...are enough of an apology for the very uncreative deaths. You also have to like the way Morgan dispatches of his cast so quickly yet at the same time making it fit well and work within the movie. Usually when characters die too quickly, it hurts a film. But in the case of this movie, it makes sense considering the personas of both killers and the numerous advantages they have over their victims. One thing Glen Morgan cannot sure up though is his climax, which is set inside a hospital where the thought to be dead killers and the final two surviving girls are taken. The climax isn't weak in the way that it was set up, but in the way it plays out. It moves way too quickly, and just doesn't look realistic enough to be a satisfying "end all be all" to the story. It just felt tacked on. "Black Christmas" is a fun slasher movie that doesn't require too much thinking, but is smart in more ways than it should be. Despite it's good qualities, it also has some very bad qualities which had they been corrected...could've made this movie one of the best holiday themed slashers to come out in ages.
Positives:Blood and gore are everywhere, great performances by the 5 female leads. The killers are interesting character studies, and the flashbacks to Billy's childhood really pushed the envelope.
Negatives: A drastic overuse of death by eye gauging or eye ripping out. A really cheap ending.
Overall:Moderately well done holiday themed slasher film that will satisfy most people who can overlook a few of the films blatant pacing problems.
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