This festive fright-fest was a nice surprise from what I was originally expecting. This is another horror remake (from the people behind ‘Final Destination’ – great film), but un-like so many others; it did manage to come up trumps to an extent; such as ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ This is a remake of Bob Clarke’s 1974 classic slasher movie, ‘Black Christmas’; which actually came four years before John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’. Some fans lay claim that it was the original slasher flick, because it was. It's also brilliant (the original.)
From the outside, this looks like just another of your basic ‘there’s a psycho hacking up a bunch of pretty girls, who are running up the stairs instead of out of the door,’ and to a certain extent that’s correct, it’s the way this is conveyed which is interesting and enticing to watch.
The story: crazed killer, Billy Lenz, escapes his psychiatric ward and is determined to make it to his childhood home, where he was abused, by Christmas. Problem is, it’s years later and the home is now a Sorority house. It’s Christmas Eve and a who’s who of teen/horror girl stars are there to welcome him, including Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg , ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’ fame), Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, ‘Final Destination 3’), Dana (Lacey Chabert, ‘Mean Girls’) and Kelli (Katie Cassidy, ‘When a stranger calls’ remake. 'A nightmare on Elm Street re-make')
This movie is actually okay, don't get me wrong it doesn't have a patch on the original, but it's kind of fun. It has a constant feeling of being watched that runs right through it and adds a sparkle to the scares, and the tension is kept high. The actresses, although spouting some awful lines at times, also say some good ones. The acting is good, and because most of the leading ladies are stars, and most of them horror stars, the audience doesn’t guess which one is going to make it to the rolling credits. The story-line builds well, and there is a mounting tension, as the killer first phones the girls, and then starts to do away with them. The calls are nothing compared to the original though, the calls in the original really freaked me out.
A similar storyline to the original ‘Halloween’, with a killer coming home for the holidays, there are also many similar P.O.V shots of the killer, watching the girls throughout the house. This is due to 'Black Christmas' being made before 'Halloween', and 'Halloween' taking it's example from 'Black Christmas', not the other way around. The Christmas theme bleeds in nicely with the plot, and it comes across in places (especially, the flash-backs to Billy Lenz’s childhood) like something, director, Tim Burton, would dream up. The film gets darker and darker as we move through it, with some very violent scenes, and the music by Shirley Walker is great; capturing horror and Christmas all in one twisted melody. Also, the use of red and green lighting throughout (owed to Christmas) is very cool, and creates a great atmosphere.
Due to it being set in a Sorority house, and this no longer being 1974, some of the dialogue just doesn’t cut it. I can’t imagine many of these girls’ staying in the house with a crazed serial killer, just because they can’t find their ‘sorority sister,’ believable in 2007 – sad, but true. There is, unfortunately, the obligatory shower scene, but it’s used for scares, not thrills, and so kinda works.
Right from the start you can tell, this isn’t your usual run of the mill slasher, it actually has a back story, and we do find ourselves caring for some of the characters, for example, Kelli, played by Katie Cassidy is great (it is a shame she's using all her acting skills in bad re-makes though); plus if you hated ‘Dawn’ in ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’ – you are gonna love this movie.
A really well-made horror for Christmas, but don’t forget to check out the original, after all, that is why we have this one - and it's far scarier. Plus, it was the original slasher!