Ah yes, Christmas horror, a tradition now decades old, one that inevitably leads one to talk about the Silent Night, Deadly Night series, that – while not inventing the notion, as Bob Clark’s Black Christmas was already a decade old itself by then– had quite the impact back in 1984, and definitely helped the subgenre grow into a profitable niche, while also spawning two sequels and two other numbered entries that really had nothing to do with 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night at all.
So yeah, if you know me.. you already know we ain’t talking about any of those directly, there’s always a catch, so we’re revisiting the 2012 remake of the 1984 original Silent Night Deadly Night, simply called “Silent Night”, following the then common trend of remakes shortening titles.
It was either that or Silent Night, Bloody Night, which is – odd as it may sound – not a rip-off and actually pre-dates both the original Black Christmas and the original Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Sure as hell i really don’t wanna watch-review the 2019 Black Christmas. Not yet.
So, this is one of those kind of remakes, the very loose brand. As in, it might as well not be considered part of the series, but then again, stuff like SNDN 5 The Toymaker was/is, so whatever, this too can be included.
Still, i wanna stress it’s incredibly loose, because the plot just shares the killer being a guy in a Santa suit having been traumatized as a child by seeing his parents get killed on Christmas day, now out in a mad revenge killing spree using an axe (mostly), but that’s really about it, and it’s more based on a real life tragedy known as the Covina Massacre, where on Christmas’ eve 2008 a guy killed nine people donning a Santa suit.
Yeah, good taste has never been anywhere near this series from the beginning.
So in the end it’s really more its own thing, heck, arguably Don’t Open Till Christmas has more in common with the original Silent Night Deadly Night than this, but it’s a remake, so if we weren’t complaining about that we would bitchin about it being too similar to the original, and there are a few cute nods to the original movie (and its “sequel”) that fans will be able to spot quite easily.
To honest, this one is honestly a fun horror slasher film on its own, and actually manages to update most of the themes quite well, and while the whole “non-marital sex is a sin worth death” message found in american slasher films already was a genre clichè/institution in 1984, the religious element kinda did. The first Silent Night Deadly Night after all was a very catholical movie through and through, and it was meant to shock people by tainting a literal holiday with murder and sin.
While that it’s arguably a very strong part of the original film (and arguably the best element, with the despot head nun being a monster herself as much as the one she created), it simply wouldn’t fly today, because of modern “unsensibilities” on the matter. We have a different, disillusioned outlook on the subject, to the point “christmas horror” it’s a full fledged subgenre, it’s codified and expected, so it makes sense the remake doesn’t really make a big deal on the religious element, though it touches upon in, but without any pretense to shock a jaded audience with old tricks.
Arguably this is one of the few exceptions to the “remake are always inferior to the originals” rule, i can’t really call the 1984 movie “good” by any meaning of the word, it’s (and was) very cheap exploitation film lacking any style or solid craft to itself, part of slasher history but far from a “classic”. It’s less memorable than the original, and it’s not great or anything like that either, but also arguably more entertaining, more consistently fun, has a noticeably bigger budget and better production values overall, a lot of gory kills (gotta love the woodchipper kills).
Overall, it’s surprisingly decent fun remake of an old horror slasher, as far as horror remakes go it’s fine, could be much worse, and it has Malcom McDowell in it hamming it up, always a plus.