Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Silent Night (2012)

Silent Night (2012)

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(Originally posted here)

Silent Night is a better '80s slasher than Woodchipper Massacre was, despite being made nearly a quarter-century after Reagan left the White House. It's got a plot that doesn't make a lick of sense, but it's also got blood, babes, a sky-high body count, a selection of great kills, Jaime King as a kick-ass horror heroine, and a wonderfully Christmas-hammy Malcolm McDowell as an "all-American" "Midwestern" (ha!) sheriff.

First off, let's get this film's biggest problem out of the way first: the plot. The reveal of the killer was awfully anti-climatic, what with him turning out to be a fairly minor character who had barely figured into the story. On top of that, knowing who the killer was, his killing spree didn't make all that much sense, given that there were only a few characters who he could have some justified grievances against. Many of his victims were assholes, to be sure, but ultimately the film falls into the time-worn slasher convention of having the killer be a "scourge of God" out to punish the wicked. It's gotten stale by this point. Whatever happened to just plain crazy? Lastly, the killer did engage in the whole "how did he get there so fast" game once or twice, and some of the decisions made by the victims bordered on brain-dead; the stripper in particular stands out here. (When you're being chased by a psycho, don't turn around and check to make sure he's still there!)

On the other hand, while this film makes many of the same mistakes as so many '80s slashers, it also revels in what made them so awesome. The body count runs above a dozen, and these kills aren't weak. We get eyes exploding, a man gutted, fingers sliced off, a head getting chopped in half with an axe, and one kill that had me going "nice rack!" This film is very much R-rated, and it revels in the sleaze of its inspiration, from the gratuitous nudity and scantily-clad babes to its willingness to push the line of good taste, including establishing that bratty little kids are not safe. The film also throws in a reference to a famous scene from Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 that had me rocking in my chair laughing. Lastly, while some of the performances from the victims are subpar, both Jamie King and Malcolm McDowell keep the film on solid ground. King once again (after her similar turn in My Bloody Valentine 3D) shows that she can play a tough final girl with the best of them, while McDowell... plays the same character he always plays, but that's hardly a bad thing.

Score: 3 out of 5

The makers of this film knew that this wasn't high art that they were making, so they embraced the cheese and turned in a solid throwback to '80s slasher movies that can hang with many of that era's "finest" efforts.

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