Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Release Review : Silent Night

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

If you've been reading Freddy In Space with any regularity over the years, you've likely by now grasped the fact that Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of my favorite slasher movies of all time, and I say that all year round, not just when I'm balls deep in the Christmas spirit like I am right about now.
So naturally, when I heard the movie was being remade, I got excited.  Well, I guess I shouldn't use the word 'naturally' there, since most horror fans get upset when they hear that their favorite movies are being remade.  Me?  I get excited.  Cautiously excited, but excited nonetheless.  I love me some Christmas horror and I was very interested to see a new vision of the killer Santa tale, especially considering the director attached to the project was Steve C. Miller, whose recent film The Aggression Scale quite impressed me.  Needless to say, I've been anxiously, and a bit cautiously, anticipating being able to finally check this one out.
Which brings us to today, when the film hit home video and On Demand services.  For several weeks now my friend Jesse and I have planned on watching both the original and remake tonight, considering I pre-ordered both of them (the original two Silent Night, Deadly Night films were re-released onto DVD today, as well).  Though the two discs were supposed to be delivered to my house today, I came home from work to find a package from UPS on my doorstep, but not the one I was expecting.  The goddamn thing never arrived at my house, despite the fact that the tracking information indicated it was on its way, as of this morning.
Rather than cancelling the whole night of fun, I decided to instead just rent the remake on VUDU, and watch that with Jesse.  Not as exciting as the original double feature plan, but what can ya do.  If you're keeping track right now, yes, that means I bought this film twice, before even seeing it.  Considering I don't exactly have spare money to throw around, you can use that to gauge my excitement over seeing this film.  And hey, I figured if the movie sucked, I could always just return the DVD to Amazon, once it comes tomorrow.  No biggie.
So then.  I guess you're wondering if I'm going to be returning it, am I right?  I'm not 100% sure yet, but I must say, the idea of that $14.99 being plunked back into my checking account is a bit more appealing to me right about now than owning the DVD of this movie.
Now when I say I was excited about the movie, I do want to make it clear that I went into Silent Night with very simple and practical standards and expectations.  It's not that I was expecting the movie to suck, but all I was really looking from it were two things; a lot of gore, and a whole lot of fun.  If I got those two things, in spades, I would've been more than satisfied.  As much as I love the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, it's not exactly like it's an incredible masterpiece with big shoes to fill, so I was really just looking to have some good old fashioned slasher fun, like the original provides for me on each and every single viewing, no matter how many times I watch it.  So the fact that I was disappointed, even with those simple standards, really kinda speaks volumes, I'm sorry to say.
As you've probably heard by now, Silent Night is a fairly loose remake of the original, with the whole killer in a Santa suit thing being the only big thing that's really carried over.  In other words, the killer's name isn't Billy and there's no Mother Superior.  He does punish the naughty, and there are several references to the original throughout (more on that in a minute), but it's very much an in name only remake, for the most part.
Before we get into the cons, let's talk some pros here.  As far as the gore goes, it's pretty spectacular, when Miller wants to give it to us.  The body count is high and everyone from small children to old folks are killed off, with two kills in particular that wouldn't be out of a place on a best of the year list of horror movie kills.  And most of the gore, as Miller seems to be a huge proponent of, is pulled off practically, without the use of CGI.  So props for that.
The other major pro of the movie are those aforementioned references to the original.  Creepy catatonic grandpa is there, and he comes to life and spouts some very familiar dialogue, which was awesome to see.  There are also a couple kills that are directly lifted from the original, which I won't spoil.  Though I will say that one involves a hot young girl, whose father may or may not hang sharp animal parts on his walls.  I shall say no more!
There's even a nice quick little Black Christmas reference thrown in the mix, as well as a Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 homage that's sure to make ya smile.  So all that stuff was fun to see, even if most of it feels very crowbarred in.
Aside from that, Donal Logue is the highlight of the show here on the acting front, though he doesn't have all that much screen time.  Always liked that dude, and he's pretty funny in the movie.  So there's that.
Oh and the killer Santa looks totally badass.  So points for that too.
Now in terms of cons, that's where the movie really falls apart.  The bottom line is that it's just not all that much fun, which is really the one main thing I was looking for it to be.  The hour and a half run time feels a lot longer than it is, and the downtime between the fun (aka the killer Santa action) just kills the movie, and makes it drag along at a snail's pace.  Quite frankly, for large hunks of the film, it's just plain boring, which is not good when we're talking about a very short slasher movie.
The main problem with the movie is that it seems to be torn between being a balls out fun experience and a dramatic and serious one, and the mixture of the two just doesn't work.  The kills are a blast, and give glimpses into the awesomeness the movie easily could've attained, but all that fun is so bogged down by inane and boring Lifetime cop drama, and the end result is a pretty boring film that has a cool kill thrown into it every once in a while, rather than an overall fun film with some boring downtime.  It is of course inherently fun to see Santa going around killing people, but that inherent fun only goes so far, when there's really not much else there.
As far as the kills go, while there are a few standout ones, I can't help but feel that the ball was even dropped in that department.  The majority of the kills are pretty boring and lack creativity, which is a real bummer because the more impressive kills show that there were some pretty skilled effects artists on set.  Again, aside from those two standout kills, there's not all that much to see here, in terms of gore.  There's no snow to see either, which kinda hurts the overall vibe.  I demand blood covered snow in a Christmas horror flick, goddammit!
Bottom line?  I was looking for a fun and gory film from Silent Night, and what I got was a pretty boring and lackluster slasher, with little dabs of fun and gore here and there.  Is it the worst remake ever?  Not by a  long shot.  It has its moments, and it's really not a terrible movie, but it's just not nearly as fun as it by all means should've been.  Because of that, I've gotta consider it a disappointment, at least in my eyes.
But you know me.  I'm a total franchise completest.  So I likely won't be returning the DVD, regardless of my disappointment with the movie.  Such is the bane of existence for a DVD hoarder!


Jose said...

Nice review Johnny. I was thinking about ordering this off OnDemand but shitty Comcast, sorry Xfinity, only had this in a non HD format. Ran out to buy the original on dvd and considered picking up the remake as well, but decided against it (and thanks to your review I'm glad I didn't). Still interested in checking out Miller's last film but as far as Holiday viewing I'll stick with the original SNDN series (yes even The Inititation)and Black Xmas (which had a remake I didn't hate)

Love the site by the way. Keep up the awesome work.

Eric Flapjack Ashley said...

I had a SN marathon yesterday with the newly rereleased SNDN 1 & 2 and the new SILENT NIGHT. I have to say that I enjoyed the originals more. Like you said, I didn't think it was the worst remake ever, but it was far from being a good one. If it would have played over-the-top all the way, it would have been a really fun ride. The nods to fans of the original was like throwing a small bone to a hungry wolf - pleasing for a fleeting second, but leaves you wanting much more.

And as much as I love Malcolm McDowell, I hated his phoned-in performance here that seemed just a carbon-copy of Dr. Loomis from RZ's HALLOWEEN II.

Ayla Miller said...

I want that movie