Saturday, December 27, 2014

MR Silent Night (2012)

He Knows Who's Been Naughty...

I originally meant to publish this review on Christmas. Sorry for the delay!

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Movie: Silent Night aka Silent Night (2012)
Directed by Steven C. Miller 
Release date 2012
Genre Slasher film
Country USA/Canada

I'm usually not super fond of remakes, but it's nice to give them a fair shot from time to time. You never know what kinda surprise you might find.

And this one wasn't made by Platinum Dunes for a change.

Silent Night (2012) was loosely based on Charles E. Sellier's 1984 classic Silent Night, Deadly Night. The film was produced by Anchor Bay which recently acquired the rights to the original (to re-released them on home video for example). And it was directed by a fairly impressive newcomer to the genre Steven C. Miller. It's also partially inspired by the real life 2008 Covina massacre. The film only had a limited run on theaters before arriving on DVD and the likes.

The original film was surrounded by a huge controversy and had to be pulled out of theaters back then. It's easily one of the most fun underrated 80s holiday-themed horror slasher flicks out there.

It was sadly never regarded in the same light as the likes of Halloween or the Friday the 13th series. And is often overshadowed by the silliness of its sequel Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 ("Garbage Day", anyone?).

The original 1984 film revolved around this little boy that saw his parents murdered in front of him by someone dressed in a Santa suit... and how it made him go crazy before turning into a Killer Santa as an adult.

The story of this "loose remake", which is actually more of a reboot here, actually feels fresh. While the original actually spent a lot of time following our killer, this time the story takes place on the police's side as we witness how they react to it. We do get some form of backstory later on, but we're thrown right in the middle of it as this killer shows up in this quiet little town. We have to wait until the end to figure it all out.

The film kind of uses a similar narrative structure as Wes Craven’s Scream "Whodunit" formula.

Silent Night features a pretty good cast. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong and Brendan Fehr.

It's trashy and gory. With lots of gore, nudity and over-the-top kills.

The story takes place in the small town of Cryer, Wisconsin.

There's a serial killer dressed as Santa Claus running amok on Christmas Eve! It couldn't have been worse than that. The streets are filled with tons of Santas roaming the streets for the town's annual Christmas contest. Which means the killer's hiding in plain sight...

To avoid raising a panic, Sheriff James Cooper (played by Malcolm McDowell) wants to solve this on his own. Which means he and his deputies will have to hunt a killer without much help (that plus the fact it's Christmas Eve might prove difficult to have help quickly over there).

The killer is masked with a plastic Santa mask and the only clues are the big bloody track of footprints he leaves wherever he goes.

We are quickly introduced to our heroine deputy Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King), a grieving widow and our "final girl" in this picture.

The Killer Santa is seemingly killing at random at first. But it soon turns out he might be going after what he considers "bad people"? These adulterous persons, a porn director and softporn actresses. If you're naughty, Santa's coming for you! Santa is punishing naughty people in his rampage!

They throw this story about this man, Ronald Jones, dressed as Santa who went after his cheating wife armed with a flamethrower (the actual part that was inspired by the Covina massacre), which is just an urban myth. It's a nice flashback scene that uses great color contrasts, kind of reminiscent of Sin City with Santa's red suit highlighted, it looks pretty cool.

There's also a creepy priest and several other characters at the precinct that do get some kind of story arc one way or another.

After some misleading suspects, it turns out Aubrey's dad was the cop that gunned down Ronald Jr.'s father! And he's now seeking his revenge in this not so clean-town!

Silent Night (2012) is not a scene-by-scene remake of the original. They did keep some of the more memorable scenes such as the grandpa scene, the antlers kill, etc. The film does feature some mentions and allusions to it (and even the 1987 Part 2). But other than that, it's a complete reimagining only following the same premise.

Our Killer Santa is turned into a silent creepy killer, sort of combining the best of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.

It also marks a return of an exploitation genre that I hadn't seen in ages. Festive horror back with a vengeance! Our flamethrower-wielding Santa is a great throwback to the 1980s slashers. This Santa knows if you've been naughty! People that get murdered always (kinda) deserve it. They even dare attack on screen (although less brutal and more cleverly edited) some foul-mouthed 12 year old girl! Something you won't see in most horror flicks these days!

It's like a return back to traditional slasher flick days. The kills are fast-paced and brutal. Each kill different from one another. Our "Santa" uses a wide variety of "tools", from axes to a hatchet, knives, and even a wood chipper (which reminded me of the awesome Tucker & Dale) in what is perhaps the best kill of this entire film.

The movie is fun and gory. The direction is also pretty good for a film of this genre. Steven C. Miller certainly has an eye for stylish horror direction. The movie looks slick. Amazing picture. It feels fresh, fun, modern and detailed.

Our leads do a reasonably good decent job. Jaime King plays a decent sympathetic lead. Meanwhile Malcolm McDowell seems to be having fun with his cheesy performance. His current late B-movie career seems to have taken a turn for the worst in most of his appearances, in films like Silent Hill: Revelation. But it wasn't that bad this time, he plays here a pretty fun character, sure, kinda stupid at times but pretty funny. And much better than his portrayal of Dr. Loomis in Rob Zombie’s Halloween no doubt. The rest of the cast offers some fairly good performances. And as a fan of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World it was great to see Ellen Wong again, even if it was in a minor role here.

Much of the story revolves around this mystery who the killer Santa really is. The film plays with a lot of red herrings. When the ending finally reveals who that person is, it's nice to see it ties directly into the original Silent Night, Deadly Night film in a way that closely makes this all the more of a remake instead of just a loose adaptation.

Silent Night is a lot of fun, fun, fast and has some great memorable brutal kills. Like good ol' 80s slasher flicks, there's some T&A. Lately there's been a lot of shitty horror films recently, remakes or not, mostly regarding big budgets horror films. It's nice to see a film that remembers what made these fun in the first place.

The film features a pretty good score composed by a regular of the genre, Kevin Riepl. Pretty badass, it has a great oppressing tone and it's perfectly creepy.

Following so many awful sequels and bad pop culture jokes, the original cult classic SNDN kinda felt into obscurity (specially compared to its ill-fated sequel and that infamous "Garbage Day!" line). It's always a shame when it happens to such an underrated classic. The original film was one of the most brutal and earliest entries in the slasher genre at the time. And this was one of the rare occasion where I'm pretty okay with the idea of a reboot giving a clean slate. This new installment could as well be considered the 6h entry in the overall franchise, but it was better to simply call it "Silent Night" and therefore ignore all the old sequels that way. It's a worthy successor of the original. It modernizes the concept, has a great brutal tone, it's gory, with loads of thrills and even has some dark humor to it.  It's a pretty good decent modern slasher, with some great characters that avoid being your typical slasher fodder and act dumb.

Overall, Silent Night is definitively worth a look. One of the better and most decent recent remakes I've seen. It has some great impressive kills and a nice tongue-in-cheek tone. Pretty good cinematography as well, and some great allusions and jokes.

There's something about turning this jolly Holiday figure into a nightmarish boogeyman that is just perfect for the genre.

Silent night features some really great production values that really help sell this film. My only real problem with it is that they go a bit overkill on these lensflares at some parts. And there's a pretty silly use of slowmo during a scene at the mayor house.

Despite being a remake of the 1984 classic, it doesn't exactly follow the same story. But I would still consider it a remake nonetheless. The film contains several nods to the original and even a few reference to its first sequel (such as the eye popping at the beginning of the film, including a "Garbage Day" reference to Part 2!). If the new Nightmare on Elm Street taught us anything is that following a story as closely as possible doesn't necessary mean a good film if everything else misses the point. What a good reboot really needs is keeping much of the same tone and atmosphere and then playing with the situation and characters.

Silent Night (2012) does its own thing but at least they tried to keep as much from what made the original controversial film. That is, a very violent, brutal and grim "Christmas movie". This new iteration plays with our expectations and is able to surprise pleasantly. It even features a couple of classics such as the old grandpa warning, the traumatic Santa-related experience now looking for revenge and even one of everyone's favorite memorable murders via antlers!

Highly Recommended! The film looks absolutely amazing.

I can easily picture this viewing turning into a new tradition around this time of the year.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Necronomicons!

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