RJ Bayley Reviews: Black Christmas
What’s so terrifying about Black Christmas is its own history. If you’re a film buff you’re probably aware of this film’s existence: “that Christmas themed horror”/”the first slasher”. Its this status as one of the earliest slashers that sets up a false sense of security.
Unlike the standard template however, the antagonist is not a lumbering threat. The fact he stays hidden in the shadows of the house means his omnipresence (an idiom Black Christmas does conform to) is verisimilitudinous without resorting to fantastical devices.
Something is a little unsettling about Black Christmas. It’s a little too confined, the players somewhat more trapped, the playing field is that bit smaller. There’s the traditional set-up but then, early on are the phone-calls. Not calls that Scream hoped to parody; Scream would be lucky if it could capture something as revolting as these.
The calls in the movie are genuinely some of the most horrifying, deranged audio ever committed to film. It’s something that will stand out and stay with you. This helps build the palpable tension and star Olivia Hussey is a grand scream queen.
But the best thing about Black Christmas? The plot goes in a direction that will leave you thinking for days , if not weeks.
Yes, there are huge leaps in logic (why do the girls stay in the sorority house after several murders? Why do the police not have someone next to the phone 24/7?) It doesn’t matter, this remains utterly original and raw. Thanks to the performances and brutality of the story, this continues to be a terrifying movie to all but the most cynical; and frankly if this picture doesn’t make your skin crawl, it’s on too tight.
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