Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blu-ray Review: SILENT NIGHT (2012)


Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region Code: A l 1
Duration: 94 Minutes
Rating: R
Video: 1080p  Anamorphic Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 , English TrueHD 5.1 
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jamie King, Donal Logue, Lisa Marie, Brendan Fehr, Ellen Wong
Director: Steven C. Miller 
Tagline: He Knows Who's Been Naughty

Synopsis: McDowell and King star as a small-town sheriff and deputy on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus terrorizing their community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santa's for the annual Christmas parade, the killer is hiding in plain sight. He’s made his list, checked it twice, and the naughty are going to pay with their lives.

Director Steven C. Miller came onto the scene with a little indie darling zombie feature AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION (2006) and hasn't done a whole lot that I have seen since so I was a bit surprised to him at the helm of the remake of the sleazy Santa slasher SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984). Right away let's just say that this is only a remake in the same sense that Zach Snyder's DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) was a remake of George A. Romero's original, the basic idea is there but they keep it pretty loose and that's a good thing in both instances, DotD '04 is a pretty great film, one of the better remakes of classic horror films along the lines of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)  - all remakes that did it right.

There's a fun cast of character beginning with Malcolm McDowell (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) as the small-town's sheriff Cooper delivering some of the film's best lines, really rote stuff but McDowell nails each one perfectly. Then we have his deputy Aubrey played by Jamie King (MOTHER's DAY) who suffering through some personal loss and self doubt, she's sorta the centerpiece of the film but I found her character not so much unlikable as just a bit too drab in a film cast with colorful caricatures, particularly Donel Logue (GROUNDED FOR LIFE) as a cynical Santa Jim who makes children cry while they sit on his lap as he dispenses the hard truth about xmas, he also delivers the film's greatest monologue, a diatribe about how awful Christmas time really is. Those three our our main characters and then we get a dip-shit Deputy Jordan (Brendean Fehr) and the town mayor plus his slutty daughter Tiffany (Courtney Jane-White, TV's TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL) plus a pervy priest. There's not a whole lot of character development nor likable characters  to get behind  but sometimes it's fun just to kick back and watch Santa kill a few fuckers. 

The Santa here is significantly more awesome than the original in my opinion, a hulk of a jolly St. Nick with a huge white beard and one of those creepy translucent masks covering his eyes and nose with blackened eyes, he cuts quite an imposing figure and he's a brutal bastard with no mercy for the naughty, even cattle-prodding a bitchy teen before skewering her with a wood-poker. Setting itself apart from the original film there's not a lot of character development for our slasher Santa, there are no evil nuns at an orphanage, no flashbacks to a Santa raping his mother and I really like the way they handled it, there is an origin story with a cool urban legend element to it. Something they kept from the original film that I liked a bunch was the creepy catatonic grandpa warning his grandson about Santa and his wicked ways.

As kills go we do get some nice homages to the original in the form of electrocution and impalement on antlers and if there's one thing the original did better it's probably these two kills, Linnea Quigley's impalement was a great kill in the original and the electrocution seems to me more of a lift from the second film and I think that too holds up a bit better. This Santa utilizes all manner of weaponry, we get some dismemberment, a blood splattered wood chipper massacre, a brutal head-splitting with an ax, a scythe to the groin and Santa pulverizing someones face with a set of brass knuckles emblazoned with the words "Ho Ho Ho".  The kills are the highlight of the film for me, it's definitely not a character study of a demented mind, just some totally fun psycho-Santa brutality including some flame-thrower shenanigans. 

Maybe the only thing that annoyed me was that for a Christmas-themed slasher I felt that the atmosphere was a bit inconsistent, snow sorta came and went from scene to scene but that's a pretty small gripe. This is a brutal Christmas slasher and a fun remake, perfect viewing with a few seasonal beers and definitely gonna be a tradition from here on in. This one hit the right notes for me, a stylish film with some gruesome raw gore and cool nods to the original. There's not a whole lot of substance here but c'mon now - it's a psycho Santa on the loose with a flame-thrower!  4 Outta 5 

Special Features:
- “SILENT NIGHT: Behind The Scenes” (6:14) 
- Deleted Scenes (4:50)