RJ Bayley Reviews: Black Christmas (2006)

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If you want to see the real trash horror of the noughties, the place to look is not to indies, but to studio films that populated the multiplexes.
Director Glen Morgan’s Black Christmas is a prime cut of this Hollywood trash cycle, not least for being a remake of the truly seminal 1974 original.

It does however stand head and shoulders above similar Hollywood remakes of the era like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and Friday the 13th (2009). A major reason for this are the entertainingly written characters, who’s dialogue, while never convincing and always glossy, can be amusing. They are also written with a definite self-awareness, not so much riffing on the original Black Sabbath, but on the increasingly obnoxious and comically one dimensional characters of films that followed it. In a wider context they’re also a very nice stab at the belligerent frat/sorority culture of the time.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the film is tediously one-note. The snark and sass and self-awareness becomes tiresome, the only diversion being the killer’s back-story, torn between equal attempts to be comical, depressing and nauseating. It succeeds, to some degree, in all of these things, but that’s not to say that’s a beer that should be brewed.

Two contrasting flavours that are always welcomed when combined are graphic, violence and comedy, and they are the movie’s saving grace. Some of the assaults are alarmingly hilarious, and, while it never reaches these heights, does evoke the hysteric/shock effect The Evil Dead pioneered. The killer has an obsession with gouging eyeballs out, occasionally eating them, and all the effects are very accomplished and way beyond the rather poor eyeball effect in Hostel (2005).

Black Christmas isn’t great, but its dialogue and gore put it ahead of its pack.

★★

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