Synopsis: In 1984, the slasher classic Silent Night, Deadly Night stunned audiences, was banned across America, and remains the most notorious Christmas movie in history. Now, Santa is back, and he’s got a brand new bag of tricks. As their small midwestern town prepares for its annual Christmas Eve parade, Sheriff (Malcolm McDowell) and his deputy (Jaime King) discover that a maniac in a Santa suit is murdering those he judges as “naughty.” Their sins? Porn, adultery, greed…And he will make sure they rest in heavenly pieces.
Release Date: November 30, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Silent Night is the story of a young deputy policewoman named Aubrey Bradimore (My Bloody Valentine‘s Jaime King) who is called in to work on Christmas Eve despite it being her first holiday since losing her husband. The night is anything but typical, however, as Aubrey and her boss, Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange) find themselves dealing with a psychotic killer who is preying upon victims while dressed up as Santa Claus. Matters are complicated further by the town’s Santa Parade, which has dozens of citizens dressing up as the jolly fat man, allowing the killer to hide in plain sight. As Aubrey and Cooper deal with a rising body count, they race against time to figure out the identity of the naughty Santa and find a way to stop him before he strikes again.
Silent Night is a loose retelling of 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night – loose meaning that both films have a killer Santa and a scene where a girl gets impaled on a set of reindeer antlers, and that’s where the similarities end. Screenwriter Jayson Rothwell (Blessed) takes an overused trope – the killer Santa Claus – and seems to make it even blander with a generic storyline that he fills with both horror and holiday stereotypes. For his part, director Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale) turns the script into a fairly convincing suspense film – it’s dark, disturbing and humorless. And that’s kind of the problem.
For a horror movie, particularly a slasher, Silent Night takes itself way too seriously. It follows the trend that plagues way too many of the horror reboots that have hit theaters in droves over the last ten years or so; it lacks the subtle humor, whether intentional or unintentional, of the original, so the remake just seems like a lot less fun. Silent Night is reminiscent of last year’s remake of Mother’s Day (which also starred Jaime King) or Rob Zombie’s re-visioning of Halloween (which also starred Malcolm McDowell) – grim, depressing and completely devoid of the tongue-in-cheek winks that permeate the original films. What makes those films more effective than Silent Night is the subject matter; it’s very hard to make a film that will be taken seriously when your main character is a flame-thrower wielding Santa. Silent Night does have its moments – there’s a great scene where a girl (half naked, of course) is chased through a Christmas tree lot before, ultimately, getting fed to a wood chipper; but, for the most part, it tries to be more Silence of the Lambs than Silent Night, Deadly Night, and doesn’t do a very good job. A movie about a killer Santa should not be this sober, but Silent Night manages to strip the fun out of the concept, making it too grave and unsmiling.
In the right environment, Silent Night could cause some sleeplessness. It’s actually pretty suspenseful; Steven C. Miller does a good job of building tension and getting the viewer’s pulse racing with anticipation. The payoffs are not as well done as they could be, however, so the film is not as scary as some of its remake contemporaries. In the true slasher spirit, the killer’s methods are ingenious and creative – aside from the wood chipper, flamethrower and reindeer antlers, Santa kills with such gruesome implements as Christmas lights, cattle prods, and whatever else he can get his merry little hands on. However, without the charisma of a Freddy Krueger or a Jason Voorhees, the killer is just an anonymous Santa, making the film more disturbing than scary. If Silent Night frightens viewers, it’s for the wrong reasons; it’s not because the killer is a strong antagonist, it’s because he’s a trusted icon. Silent Night is scary in the way that clowns are scary – not shocking or heart-stopping scary, but unsettling and creepy scary. And that’s just wrong.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Steven C. Miller
- Screenwriter(s): Jayson Rothwell
- Cast: Malcolm McDowell (Sheriff Cooper), Jaime King (Aubrey), Donal Logue (Santa Jim), Rick Skene (Ronald Jones), Ellen Wong (Brenda)
- Editor(s): Seth Flaum
- Cinematographer: Joseph White
- Music Score: Kevin Riepl
- Country Of Origin: USA