Black Christmas
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Glen Morgan
with Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Crystal Lowe, Andrea Martin, Kristen Cloke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kathleen Kole, Jessica Harmon, Leela Savasta, Clark Gregg
release UK 15.Dec.06,
US 22.Dec.06
06/US Dimension 1h30

Snowbound: What's a girl to do?

trachtenberg martin hudson

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Black Christmas For this remake of Bob Clark's 1974 cult favourite, the filmmakers carry over the snappy attitude of their Final Destination films. Although this is a more standard horror film, the tone is witty and gleefully grisly.

It's Christmas in a sorority house and the girls haven't had the sense to leave yet for the holidays. A snowstorm is moving in, and a couple of girls seem to be missing. Then the strange phone calls start, and the house mother (Martin) decides they need to get out of there. But it might be too late. It all has something to do with a psychotic family that lived here years earlier--and their deeply disturbed son, who has a freaky obsession with eyeballs. As Christmas ornaments. Or snacks.

Before you can say, "Ewww!", this is played out as an over-the-top black comedy, full of running jokes and crazed overacting. The sorority sisters are fairly interchangeable; the actors try to give them distinct personalities, but it doesn't really stick. So there's not a lot of emotional resonance when they start dropping like flies. In this sense, it's rather a lot like the Final Destination films, as we wait for the next death with anticipation, rather than dread.

That said, the cast is good, in a disposable sort of way. Cassidy is the tenacious one in the bunch, and she's feisty enough to fight off almost anything. She's also smart enough not to venture into the basement or attic on her own. The other strong character is Cloke's manic former resident, arriving to pick up her sister (Harmon), who's now missing. Her short fuse keeps things very lively indeed through the chaos that follows.

The whole thing is filmed with style and skill, generating plenty of good jolts and playfully throwing red herrings at us right to the very end. The film is a collection of outrageous grossouts and freakouts that provide plenty of yuletide cheer for audiences tired of family-friendly holiday movies. But the broadly comical tone does undermine any real terror. And it doesn't come close to unseating Clark's original as the first and best slasher movie.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 6.Nov.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Black Christmas Laurence, Montréal, Canada: 3.5/5 "Clichéd, poised with black humour and offering nothing new to the horror genre, Black Christmas is a twistedly fun and worthy experiment in remaking one of the creepiest retro horror classics ever. The cast works fine, especially Kristen Cloke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Andrea Martin, the gore is nasty enough (mmmh-- popped eyeballs and flesh cookies!) and it's a gory little fable that never lets the viewer rest for a second. An R-Rated guilty pleasure." [6.Jan.07]
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall