The great thing about horror is that you can make any holiday terrifying. Easter? Simple, a creature feature starring a man-eating bunny of doom. Valentines Day? What about the jilted lover who goes on a killing spree after he/she is rejected by their one true love? Christmas is no different, already telling the story of a magical man who is beloved by children everywhere and is trusted by families to enter their houses while the homeowners obliviously sleep with thoughts of sugar plums dancing about their heads. If that isn’t f#cking creepy, just letting a fat bearded man prance about your house at his own free will, then I don’t know what is.
Wait, I do. How about having a deranged lunatic dressing as the almighty symbol of cheer and good will, then taking a candy cane colored scythe to those deemed naughty? Look kids, it’s Santa! What’s he got in his sack for you! How about a flamethrower to set your whole town ablaze! How’d you like to have YOUR nuts roasting over an open fire?
With that said, the concept has been thought of before. Take a look at Sint, Santa’s Slay, Rare Exports, and now Silent Night. Well, sorry, I shouldn’t say now, because Steven C. Miller’s film is actually a loose “remake” of the Christmas slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night, a classic holiday horror film which spawned the widely mocked/adored sequel Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. When it comes to holiday horror, these films are on everyone’s naughty list, but I for one was ready to see a director tackle their material by modernizing it, and maybe upping the quality a little. So how did Miller do?
Well, to be perfectly honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall package, but seriously impressed with the Christmas themed killings. For horror fans, some of the best yule tide slayings I’ve ever seen are on display in Silent Night, utilizing every bit of modern technology and murderous Santa rage thought possible. For example, I was giddy with excitement when a victim thought fleeing to a tree farm was a great way to escape the brooding killer Santa, and our evil St. Nick makes her pay Fargo style. This wasn’t the only gift-wrapped beauty Miller gave us though, as almost every kill delivered in some creative and unique way, taking into consideration everything that makes Christmas so innocent and merry. Colorful lights, surprise gifts, axes for chopping firewood, and of course flamethrowers! Well, OK, maybe flamethrowers aren’t a December staple, but it would be one hell of a way to clear out your snowy driveway! On the topic of blood, guts, and everything us horror fans want in our over-the-top slasher flicks, Silent Night will have you more excited than receiving that pony you asked for. That, and make you board up the chimney so jolly old Santa can’t pull any deadly tricks on you. Can you really trust a man in a red jumpsuit anyway?
As for our cast, I loved seeing young Scream Queen in the making Jaime King take the lead as Aubrey Bradimore, a strong and ambitious female Deputy Sheriff who hunts the murderous Santa Claus. She’s got enough fire and spunk to make me believe she’d take on these villainous characters head on, but also mousey enough to play victim if she has to.
She’s accompanied by veteran looney-bird Malcolm McDowell, who plays the cocky sheriff looking to take down their serial Santa without anyone noticing the body count piling up. He’s written as the resident one-liner dropping foolish horror character, and while he does have some really funny lines – I especially liked the bit about putting avocado and humus on a hamburger – some of his snobbish comments fell flat without humor. Sheriff Cooper wasn’t a very McDowell-y role, but he still played an enjoyable part in the Christmas chaos.
Supporters like Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D), and relative unknown Andrew Cecon provide enough relief and backing to push the rest of the film along without much pain, finding the most amount of pleasure drawn from Logue’s cynical Santa making children cry by telling them the harsh realities our world holds. Cecon plays your typical bumbling cop type role, so nothing too new there, and Wong plays the sarcastic call-taking teen at the sheriff’s office, good for a quick-witted response over the walkie.
As it all stacks up though, despite having a solid cast and magnificent horror kills, Silent Night does lack a little pizzazz that might have deemed Miller’s film an instant overnight cult classic. I couldn’t help myself from questioning moments like “but if the sprinkler system is on, how is that man still on fire?” These aren’t make or break moments, but inconsistencies throughout the film bring unintended humor even when the script doesn’t call for it. I hate doing it, but it’s my job to be nit-picky.
With that said, I did think Steven C. Miller shot interesting visuals to accompany settings, specifically thinking of cuing green and red lighting for the final battle between survivor girl Aubrey and our white bearded bastard. The colors worked really well and Miller made sure always to play with the seasonal motifs, which I loved seeing, only furthered by haunting renditions of famous Christmas carols carrying a different tone surrounded by killings. Silent Night truly felt like it was exploiting every bit of squeezable innocence out of the holiday, replacing it with death and destruction. What, not every holiday film can be like A Christmas Story. Us horror fans deserve our marathons too!
This holiday season, horror fans should be sure to unwrap Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night for an unexpected holiday treat, even if it’s not all mistletoe and sweet candy canes. It’s like sledding down a hill where half the snow has melted away to reveal the rocks located below. Everything is great as you’re zooming down full speed, but every once in a while you hit an obtrusive bump which causes minor discomfort. Was it a cakewalk getting down the hill? No, there were some challenges. Do you regret the ride? Not one bit, as you trudge back up the snowy terrain to shoot down again.