Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Release Review : Sint (Saint Nick)



First thing's first. If you plan on watching this one On Demand, as I did tonight, I implore you to proceed down that road with caution. Reason being the On Demand version, at least the one I had available to me through Cablevision, is dubbed rather than subtitled, with no option to change that, despite the fact that the description clearly states "In Dutch with English subtitles". Not cool. Not cool at all. I absolutely hate watching dubbed movies, especially ones I plan on reviewing, and i'm quite frankly pissed off that I shelled out $6.99 only to realize afterwards that I just paid for the goofy ass dubbed version of the film. Goddamn I hate that shit.

So ya, i'm kinda bummed right now that I have to review this one based on the frustratingly silly dubbed version of it I was forced to watch, but what can ya do ... other than call Cablevision and demand your money back, on the grounds of false advertising. Hm, I like the sound of that. Now that I think about it, they also advertised that the killer Santa in this one has "claws". He totally doesn't. What the F?!

Anywho, let's get this show on the road. Or should I say, this sleigh in the air. Har har.

If there's any single statement i've uttered more times than any other in the past several years of running this blog, it's that I absolutely love when the worlds of horror and Christmas collide, so much so that I tend to pretty much dig every Christmasy horror film that I see, provided they're at least halfway decent (hell, I even managed to find merit in Santa Claws ... it wasn't easy). So I guess you could say my opinions when it comes to these types of movies are biased. Bottom line being, i'm an easy man to please whenever Santa's roaming around offing folks (case in point; I pray to the altar of Santa's Slay an average of three times every December). Take that for what it's worth.

The latest holiday genre offering is this here film Saint Nick, a Dutch affair wherein the two worlds of Christmas and horror certainly do mash together in gloriously gory fashion. Over the years we've unwrapped a whole slew of Christmas horror flicks, which have seen killers in the form of everything from a guy dressed up as Santa to a guy killing anyone dressed as Santa, a jacked up pro-wrestler who truly is Santa to a well meaning dude who truly believes that he is Santa. In Saint Nick, we're given something a little bit different; a killer zombie Santa with a totally melted face, flanked by an armada of zombified 'elves', together seeking revenge on the townspeople who burnt them alive many years prior. If that premise sounds fun to you then you're likely gonna find Saint Nick to be a pretty fun hour and a half sleigh ride, a beautifully shot film that is at times quite epically awesome though at other times more reminiscent of a Syfy affair, especially in the latter half. The opening 10 minutes, which feature flashbacks to two different past time periods, are arguably better than anything that comes after it, which makes me wish the whole film kept with the tone of that strong opening rather than jumping ahead to a modern day annoying teenager setting, but even when it does approach that less than stellar Syfy territory, it's still enjoyable to watch. Saint Nick is a peculiar little film all around, but one that is almost guaranteed to entertain anyone who finds little to not love about a film that shows them a zombie Santa being shot out of the sky while riding his beastly zombified horse. I mean come on, what more can ya really ask for?! All shortcomings will be excused the minute you see that, believe you me.

One of the most impressive things about Saint Nick is the use of practical gore effects every step of the way. Heads are cut off, bodies are split in two, faces are carved up like Thanksgiving turkeys and it's all done practically and highly effectively. I'm one of the biggest proponents of practical over CGI that you'll meet here in the horror blogging community and I get as giddy as a schoolgirl when I see dyed karo syrup and old school gore effects. There's plenty of both of those in Saint Nick, as every kill is executed right in front of the audience's eyes, and it's as glorious when it looks real as it is when the severed heads are clearly props. I love that shit and I love that some people still give a damn enough to take the time to cast actor's heads, rig up blood tubes and figure out creative ways to rack up the body count without the aid of computers. So bravo to Saint Nick for that.

Now the film isn't perfect by any means, as there's a bit too much downtime between the epic scenes of Zombie Claus wreaking havoc around Amsterdam and a serious underuse of him all around, but those scenes of him brutally murdering children(!) and jumping from rooftop to rooftop on his zombie horse were plenty enough to satisfy this particular blogger. Couple those few highly memorable sequences with a gaggle of kickass practical gore effects, a slick visual style that reeks of big budget Hollywood production and a healthy dose of John Carpenter inspiration and I gotta go ahead and recommend this one as a fun little Christmas horror flick that you should give a watch this holiday season. With a bit more zombie Santa action the film could've been a whole lot more fun, and it by all means should have been, but I had a good time with it nonetheless. Sometimes, a good time is all ya really need from a film. If that's what you're looking for, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with what this undead Santa's got stuffed in his sack. If, on the other hand, you're looking for something more of substance, I once again HIGHLY recommend you seek out Rare Exports. Immediately. It's quite frankly the antithesis of the Santa slasher flick that this one is. Which one you prefer all depends on your personal taste, though Exports is unquestionably the better film, if we're gonna go ahead and compare this year's dark European Christmas offerings. Hard not to.

Again I warn you; learn from my mistake and don't order Saint Nick On Demand unless you're sure you're gonna have the option to watch it with subtitles!!


I leave you with a little fun fact; the Dutch version of the jolly gift giver, named Sinterklaas, is who our modern day Santa Claus was derived from. Unfortunately, as cool as it would've been, he was never an evil dude who returned from the dead after being burnt alive to kill evil children. That was a bit of an embellishment on the part of writer/director Dick Maas. Most other aspects are accurate to the folklore though, including Sinterklaas riding a white horse and carrying a large golden staff. Bad. Ass.

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