What’s it about? Sheriff James Cooper (Malcolm McDowell) and deputy Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King) are on the hunt for a killer Santa Claus terrorising a small-town community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santas for the annual family parade, the killer is hiding in plain view – ready to take the lives of those who have been bad this year!
Verdict? Writer Jayson Rothwell’s plot sounds as comical as the film actually is but sadly it has no scares at all. Instead, the audience is subjected to an hour and a half of slasher mayhem, cheap thrills and groan-worthy dark humour.
This horror is a very loose remake of Charles E. Sellier’s popular 1984 film Silent Night, Deadly Night, which tells the tale of a troubled man who, years after witnessing a man in a Santa costume brutally murder his mum and dad, wears the red suit and goes on a murderous spree of his own. Unfortunately, director Steven C. Miller fails to create the same chilling impact on his audience in Silent Night. This could be down to the time period – the original caused uproar with the 1980s audience due to ad campaigns emphasising the killer in a Santa Claus disguise.
The problem is Miller relies heavily on generic horror traditions which fans have tirelessly endured for decades. He does not offer a new or creative spin on the common themes of nudity, sex, drugs and immorality. On Santa’s hit-list are a lecherous priest, pornographers, unfaithful partners and sexually active teens. However, Courtney-Jane White’s drug-taking, bitchy character deserves her own gold star for a particularly melodramatic fight against bad Santa before her grisly end.
Miller’s desire for ultra-violent gore is entertaining enough, with weaponry including a cattle prod, a flame thrower and, most memorably, Courtney Palm’s wood-chipper ending. I found the brutal slaying of a child, albeit an annoying one, particularly shocking. The cinematography and special effects of the killings are impressive and much more realistic than the original film two decades ago. McDowell is great as the stubborn Sheriff, delivering witty one-liners with perfect comic timing, and Donal Logue’s condemnation of Christmas is very amusing.
But Silent Night misses out by failing to provide the viewer with an insight into the killer’s character, background and psychological state, which was much more prevalent in the original and would have given this film a stronger conclusion.
Final Words? As an avid horror fan, I feel Silent Night had all the trimmings to be an original cinematic masterpiece, but Miller’s lack of character development of the killer and failure to create tension, atmosphere or jumps left me rather cold. I think I’d prefer Sheriff Cooper’s lump of coal than the DVD in my stocking this Christmas!
Silent Night is available on DVD from 11 November 2013.