Monday, October 7, 2013

Film Review: Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas (Review)
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Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...Black Christmas (1974) is one of the best horror films of all time."

A group of girls at a sorority house are tormented by "the moaner," a man who has recently been calling the home with disturbing messages and who has been lurking in their attic...

Black Christmas continues with the girls being picked off one by one; their tormenter is able to kill them when their isolated and hide their bodies leaving the other roommates oblivious. Between each murder, the house receives a chilling phone call that give some subtle background to the serial killer. And, finally, the police get involved and begin investigating the calls after a child is found murdered in the park. Black Christmas is a simple yet immensely disturbing slasher that ends with an equally devastating finale.

First, don't expect a fast-paced, thrilling slasher -- it's best to adjust your expectations. Rather, Black Christmas is an unsettling, slow-burning slasher. It focuses on its story and character first, while also building up a creepy atmosphere. The creepiness is developed through the atmosphere, and its unsettling phone calls; easily the most memorable parts of the film, as well as within the whole genre, the phone calls are as mesmerizing as they are chilling. ("Agnes? It's me, Billy.") Aside from the phone calls, there are also some unsettling visuals, like subtle shadow movements and one freaky eye. The killings are spread throughout the film, some more violent than others, but all are disturbing -- from the asphyxiation with plastic to the stabbing. Most fans of horror will be pleased to hear that Black Christmas relies more on its genuine suspense than its violence -- and, even so, the violence may still shock some viewers. There is also some black humor that works itself well into the film.

The acting is great from the entire cast, especially the voice cast that handled the phone calls. Olivia Hussey is the lead, and I thought she was great; however, she should work on her phone communication, and her "Hello." The writing is very polished and straightforward; there are a few moments that initially felt illogical, but, thinking back, they were more about morals than stupidity, so they're forgivable. Bob Clark's direction is great, I like the camerawork and the different perspectives it uses, as well as the atmospheric, slow-burn approach.

Overall, Black Christmas is a fantastic 70s slasher. Without being too graphically violent, Black Christmas delivers the scares and cold sweat through pure suspense and creepiness. Too be a bit more blunt, Black Christmas (1974) is one of the best horror films of all time. Don't miss this gem, I plan on revisiting this film for Christmas.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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