Wednesday, January 28, 2015

7 Days of Movies: Silent Night (2012)

Silent NightSnapshot of my life: it’s 3am (in the morning, morning) and I’ve just finished my ironing for work tomorrow morning. I could be going to sleep, or I could be writing. What kind of writer would I be if I’m not writing?

In all honesty, some movies are just made to be reviewed. They just fill themselves with points against them so that nobody with the slightest hint of critic in them could possibly bypass the opportunity to review them. I really had no intention of reviewing 2012’s Silent Night, but after watching the film, I really just can’t pass it up.

Watching Silent Night, it’s pretty clear that it is in no way a remake of the classic film Silent Night, Deadly Night. While the original film was a story about a boy who was subjected to the wrong set of horrible experiences and lost his sanity in the process, this is a film about a guy in a mask killing anybody he comes across.

Except it’s pretty clear that the writer had a vision of this film being a remake to the original- or at least, a very strong homage to the original. I counted no less than four scenes that were included as direct references to Deadly Night or its sequel, none of them done well. One of these is so far removed from the plot of this film that the only reason to include it would be as a direct reference to the older movie. Which points to a remake that doesn’t include the plot, premise, or atmosphere of the original film. Unless you’re a modern film writer, which only sees “guy in a Santa suit killing people” as the premise.

This incongruity is all over this film. Silent Night goes so far as to feature a porn shoot to get a topless scene. That’s the only topless scene in the film, however, despite the fact that the killer interrupts a sex scene in order to re-enact a topless murder from the original film. Well, a foreplay scene. Everything about this film is like that generic ‘80s slasher film you always hear about, but almost never see because most ‘80s slashers were actually more original than the stereotype. Except that this film doesn’t take any chances. Everybody’s a slut, but nobody has sex.

This carries over to the violence as well. A woodchipper scene is safe- all you need to show is a bit of red spray and the audience can imagine that it’s one of the most gory scenes they’ve ever witnessed. The scenes that should be really gory, however- like the climax- the movie starts using camera filters like a ‘20s film, coloring every scene bright red or bright green. You know, because Christmas! Or maybe because the trend is PG-13 horror movies, even when the boobs-and-cocaine porn shoot ensured the film get an R rating, because for a direct to DVD feature, it’s better to have the R rating appeal even while maintaining the PG-13 content.

Besides the red and green filters, this film also features brief moments of the overly bright Christmas lights seen in Black Xmas. Thankfully, Silent Night doesn’t go that route, and prior to the last Act I have less complaints about the visual style of this film than I expected to from Act I. There are plenty of well lit scenes, but there are also some decent dark scenes. The fact that the visuals are in the style of 2012 film throughout hurt this as a slasher, but there are other modern elements that hurt it worse.

For example, Malcolm McDowell returns as Zombie-Loomis. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m blaming Rob Zombie for this character, because it seems that now, McDowell is the go-to guy to play a dick with a slight hint of good intentions, and he does not do that well here. I don’t know if I can say that the normally convincing actor is losing his touch, or what, but what I can say is that as the biggest name actor in this film, he shouldn’t have been the least convincing actor.

Another inspiration that Silent Night takes from 2007’s Halloween is the brute force killer- the killer that needs to show you how strong he is. In the ‘80s, a lot was attributed to the strength of madness- that the sheer insanity and evil of the killer would allow them to do things like crush a human skull with their bare hands. Recent slashers, however, have preferred large, wrestler-size men with hulking figures, giant footprints and, in the case of Silent Night, brass knuckles repeatedly ground into the victim.

Ultimately, I was expecting an average film from Silent Night, and in some ways it succeeded. Unfortunately, the film didn’t know what sort of average film it wanted to be- or it intended to be a conglomeration of an average ‘80s film and an average modern film. Ultimately, the haphazard approach to its averageness is what makes this a slightly below average film. I’d still recommend it to the hardcore slasher fans- the sort of person who hears “dumbed down, direct to DVD version of Silent Night, Deadly Night,” and rents it anyway- but it’s a little disappointing, even for that. I mostly chalk that up to the ridiculous red and green filters, myself.

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