Saturday, October 4, 2014

Film Review: Black Christmas (2006)

Black Christmas (Review)
United States/Canada/2006
Format Viewed For Review: DVD (Dimension Films)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...a mediocre slasher on its own merits."

During Christmas time, a group of sorority sisters are tormented by the home's previous inhabitant...

Black Christmas follows this generic set of characters as they try to survive the holidays. After a disturbing phone call, the girls suspect the home's previous inhabitant, a criminally-insane murderer who ate his mother named Billy, is back for Christmas. And, that's... pretty much it. Well, the plot also attempts to give a backstory for Billy, so there are some occasional flashbacks. Really, it's a ultra-contrived attempt at surviving the night. The film ends with one of those endings that just doesn't want to end – you know, it could have ended multiple times, but keeps going and going.

As you can tell, I wasn't a really big fan of this film. The characters aren't very bright and they're not very likable, either. In fact, they're not really distinct characters, either, as I can't really pin a name to most of them. As for the story, I appreciate the backstory for Billy and his family – it's a differentiating factor for what is otherwise another remake. However, this backstory comes off as humorous and extremely unrealistic. Every time the film went into a flashback, I felt like it was tossing anything it could into the mix – it's like the writers were throwing darts at word cards and making a story out of it. (“'Yellow?' Hmm, how about yellow skin?”) The story also features a plot contrivance around every corner. It was quite often roll-your-eyes convenient.

Black Christmas has a few decent moments, though. There's some moderate suspense every now and then. There is also plenty of blood and gore. I was actually surprised by the amount of eye-gouging this film featured. Aside from eye-gouging, there are a few brutal stabbings and plenty of cannibalism, too. There is some cheeky and irreverent humor, but I thought most of it fell flat. It seems like a decent slasher, but in reality, it wasn't scary. The cheesy backstory, the plethora of plot contrivances, and the generic characters really take you out of what could have been a frightening slasher. It's somewhat fun and exciting, but without a shred of realism, this film fails to truly scare.

The acting is okay from most of the cast. I didn't really have many complaints. Crystal Lowe, who plays Lauren, was mediocre, though, particularly because of her cliches; she can't play a drunk and she can't even pretend to sleep. The music is a standard horror score; I do like the use of classic Christmas songs, though. This film looks great; I've always been a fan of this film's distinct lighting – I'm a a fan of vivid colors within the cinematography, and this film satisfies. (It's attractive enough to me that I have actually considered searching for the Blu-ray of this film.) Director Glen Morgan delivers a consistent and technically well-executed film with decent suspense and gore; however, the story is flawed in more ways than one, the characters are forgettable, and the film has no impact – this film has never managed to scare me.

Overall, Black Christmas is a mediocre slasher on its own merits. Compared to the original Black Christmas (which I reviewed during our last 31 Days of Halloween special), this remake is terrible; it lacks the raw realism of the truly frightening original -- and this remake completely fumbles when it comes to the phone calls -- the phone calls in the original could give you nightmares! This film is more for fans of fun and exciting horror films that aren't particularly horrifying, if that makes sense. It's not a great film, I wouldn't even say it's a good film, but it's decent enough to kill an hour and a half – especially if you don't hold it up to the original and simply want to kill some time. The film has grown a bit on me since I last reviewed it over a year ago on Amazon and rated it a 3/10; maybe it'll be a 5/10 next year... (insert your favorite wink face emoji here)

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some sex and nudity.

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