The Horror Honeys: You Better Watch... Sigh, You Get It By Now

You Better Watch... Sigh, You Get It By Now

A Revenge Honey Holiday Horror Review by Linnie

Silent Night (2012)

One of the things that make most holiday horror films a riot to watch is that they are entirely self-aware; that is, they know full well that making Santa Claus a psychotic slasher is fairly ridiculous and the whole affair is conducted with a "wink wink nudge nudge" air of playfulness. The holiday slasher films that tend to fail are the ones that take themselves far too seriously. This is why I was so deeply conflicted by Stephen C. Miller's Silent Night, a loose remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984.) I couldn't figure out if it was trying to be serious or silly. In the end, even though I enjoyed parts of Silent Night, I was mostly just left confused.

The Ho-Ho-Horror Plot: On Christmas Eve in a small Wisconsin town, a murderer disguised as Santa starts picking off the naughtier residents in increasingly gruesome and inventive ways. The only people standing between the Slashing Santa and mass chaos are the city's police force, fronted by a recently widowed officer and an eccentric Sheriff. Basically, the plot is interchangeable with the any holiday horror film where Santa is the main baddie. Literally. It was the third film with the exact same plot that I'd watched in 24 hours.

Merry Christmas, from Fargo!
What Sets Silent Night Apart: Since I tend to get exceedingly generous around the holiday season, I'll open with the elements I liked about Miller's film. Unlike typical slasher fare, Silent Night is absolutely beautifully shot. The framing of some of Miller's scenes is exceptional and he has an eye for color and lighting that is more than unusual for a film of this type. While I may have been horrified by the implications of a scene where a young woman is fed into a wood chipper (more on that in a bit), there is no denying that Miller knows how to craft an effective death scene.

The people in my family only look like this after
too much eggnog.
Some of the performances in Silent Night are a trip as well. Malcolm McDowell, who more than elevates even the worst dreck just by his sheer presence, is a hoot as Sheriff Cooper. If anyone else used a line like, "Don't put avocado on the burger! Keep it simple!" I would have rolled my eyes. When McDowell says it, his giddiness is contagious. Donal Logue also makes an appearance as a red herring cynical wandering Santa, and entertains with his acerbic wit. Otherwise, no one really stands out. Jamie King stars as Officer Aubrey Bradimore, but frankly you could trade King out with any other blonde horror actress and end up with the same performance. Sorry. Not sorry.

He's thinking up more hilarious "burger" metaphors.
The (Many) Problems: As I mentioned before, unlike its "inspiration," there is nothing humorous or joyful about Silent Night. It's dark and brutal and deeply unpleasant. Some people may want this from their holiday horror but I am not one of them. Additionally, my main issue is with the scripting of the film's "naughty" characters. In the beginning, they are comically overblown; from a lecherous priest practically dripping sleaze to a teenage girl who slaps her mother's heart medication out of her hand and demands to be taken to the "fucking mall," there are no shades of gray in the counter-villains. We are supposed to take pleasure in these characters' slaughter, except their deaths are so ferocious, the comedy is lost.

That hand was just groping a choirgirl.
And then, there is the wood chipper scene. At this point, two pornographers have been dispatched by Santa simply for shooting nude pictures of women (I kept looking for context clues that they were underaged or coerced, but no, it was just two people taking consensual naked photographs of seemingly "of-age" women.) Santa then chases down the naked girl, slices her leg off, and feeds her slowly into a wood chipper... for what? I'm confused about what she did wrong. She allowed someone to take pictures of her breasts? If that were a crime punishable by death, 75% of the twenty-something women in America would be meeting their maker like Steve Buscemi in Fargo. This scene reeked of patriarchal misogyny and put me on edge for the rest of the film.

Could I borrow that axe? Your movie made me want
to chop off my brain.
The End: I won't give away the end if you haven't already seen this movie and still want to, but it turned out that Silent Night was actually a revenge film. However, I would have been much happier not knowing that. It seemed as if Silent Night was going to end without revealing the identity or motive of the killer, which is something that would have actually been interesting. Instead, there was what felt like a tacked on explanation of the killer's history. It was totally unnecessary and frankly, a little boring.

Basically, the scenes in Silent Night that work do so because they are either homage to the original Silent Night, Deadly Night or they are distractingly pretty to look at. Unfortunately, it boils down to the inherent problem that Silent Night isn't fun and it isn't new and more importantly, it's not all that memorable. I can see why some people like it; these are probably the same people that would rather sit down and watch Hostel than Child's Play. Since I am not one of these people, Silent Night did nothing for me, other than compel me to immediately text all of my female friends and tell them to hide their nude selfies from Santa. No wood chippers for my friends this Christmas!

Revenge Honey Rating: 2 blow torches to my brain out of 5
Yes, please! Burn it with fire!
Silent Night is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Vudu, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD

Would YOU be nice to this version of Santa?
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