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"Silent night, deadly night; all has come but somethin' ain't right!"
Now here's a surprising little horror gem; Silent Night remakes the controversial cult classic horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night. The original 1984 film quite possibly faced more controversy and public backlash than any other horror film at the time, with the exception of maybe Cannibal Holocaust. Silent Night cuts down on the depravity and the sickening mean-spirit of the original. It's a rather enjoyably gory romp with a concept that, for me, will never get old.
The story is simple; in a sleepy suburban town, a tall man, baring a mask and a Santa suit begins committing several bloody homicides on Christmas Eve. Dispatched on the case is officer Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King), who is constantly irritated by her needy, petulant, but also hilarious boss played by horror icon Malcolm McDowell. As she attempts to spend the holidays collectively, after losing her husband just a year prior around this same time, she finds it difficult when she is hunting down a crazed, sadistic killer whose footprints seem to be right under her's.
I grew up with twisted little genre exercises like this. As a kid, I feasted on films boasting outrageous killers and twisted setups. One of them was Santa's Slay, which, to this day, holds up as a complete film with scares, characters, quirkiness, and delightful black comedy, all while boasting one of the most entertaining horror figures of the 2000's. Going into this expecting a modest crossover between the original film and Santa's Slay, I was alarmed to find out that the film offers little humor, instead amping up the intensity and the bleakness of a horror film, all while maintaining its true nature.
One of the most notable sequences involves a nude model escaping a low-rent apartment after both photographers were killed and is left nearly helpless as she wanders throughout the back allies of the area. She runs into a crowded area with an active woodchipper and, while we see where this is going, we anticipate in an unsettling way what will happen and when it comes, we are thrilled and stunned how the film won't cop out and pull punches. It shows us just what we want and doesn't pull the typical "quick cut" move we've become so accustomed to.
Silent Night features quite possibly some of the goriest, most entertaining kills of the year, only topping it could be the gruesome lunacy of Marcus Dunstan's The Collection. To see this year's wide-releases such as The Apparition, The Devil Inside, House at the End of the Street, and Paranormal Activity 4 desperately try to to rustle up genre-scares and fail is a pathetic blow to the integrity and the capabilities of the entire horror genre. This is one of the first horror films of the year that I was proud to have sought out. It stays faithful to its genre and its cast and its crew seem to have had a lot of fun keeping it from straying into idiocy.
NOTE: Silent Night closes with a terrific revisionist anthem of one of the most iconic Christmas songs. It's fittingly called Silent Night, Deadly Night, and properly closes this quick , spontaneously enjoyable little film.
Starring: Jaime King. Malcolm McDowell, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, and Brendan Fehr. Directed by: Steven C. Miller.
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