Thursday, December 20, 2012

Silent Night

I don’t know if I’m becoming jaded toward slasher movies in general or if it’s just that the current crop of them have been absolute trash. Whatever the case may be, Silent Night, the loose remake of the cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night, is a pretty shitty flick. I’ve never seen the original, but I know of it and the storyline. Other than one death scene being identical to the infamous antler impaling and the killer wearing a Santa suit this is an “in name only” remake/reboot.

A small town is being stalked by a psychopath in a Santa mask and suit who is going door to door picking off those he has deemed “naughty” in various grisly ways. The local sheriff (Malcolm McDowell) and his deputy (Jaime King) must figure out who the killer is before it’s too late.
First off, I cannot stand the work of director Steven C. Miller. A few years back when he was attending Full Sail University he made an ultra low budget zombie film called Automaton Transfusion that was picked up by Dimension Films. I rented it out of curiosity and was absolutely appalled that someone thought that the eyeball raping I had just received was good enough to be distributed at all. It was one of the worst excuses for a movie I had ever seen at that point. But I guess it made a lot of cash and Miller went on to make more low budget films which I refused to watch on general principal. I guess he eventually gathered enough clout to get decent genre stars like Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue and Lisa Marie to star in this shitstorm of a movie.

Miller has no concept on how to build a narrative, suspense or even something remotely watchable. Basically the audience gets to spend 3 minutes with Jaime King’s deputy in the opening to develop her character and that’s all. From that point on the majority of the dialogue is made up of pithy one-liners, non-stop vulgarities and screaming. No character is given any development in the slightest therefore there is no one to care about except who the script has shoehorned into the sympathetic part. I know that these types of movies are all about the killing, but the ones I tend to enjoy the most are the ones where we have a likable character to root for during all the craziness like in the original Halloween, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street or even Jaime King’s character in the remake of My Bloody Valentine. But when everyone comes off as an asshole, an idiot or a coward I just couldn’t give two shits if you lived or died.
While the kills are pretty nasty and mildly creative they just sort of happen randomly and have no real motivation behind them. We learn at one point that the killer has marked those he intends to kill as “naughty” by sending them a present, but the reasons as to why he has marked them are never given so it looks like he picked names out of the phonebook. How this person knows that these people are naughty is never explained either since the killer (when revealed) turns out to be no one of consequence who would be in any sort of position to witness all the sordid things these people have done to deserve being slaughtered. I mean, we know that one dude was cheating on his wife, but how did the killer know? We know that little girl is a foul-mouthed little shit, but how did the killer know? We know that the mayor’s daughter is a slut, but how did he know? The killer doesn’t even seem to be a townie, so none of the set-up makes any sense. The only death that does make any sense is King’s father for reasons I won’t divulge. At least in the original there was a story to go along with the gore. There’s none of that here. It’s just death, unnecessary dialogue scene, death, unnecessary dialogue scene, death, etc. Writer Jayson Rothwell is just as much to blame here as Miller, but I put 75% of it on Miller since he’s the one interpreting the crap screenplay into something worse than I’m sure it ever was on the page.

All the acting here is pretty bottom of the barrel. Most of these actors can and have been amazing in other projects, but Miller just seems to want to get to the gore bits instead of even attempting to have his troupe look like they give a shit about their performances. Malcolm McDowell chews the scenery like a madman as the sheriff, but he cannot pull off an American accent at all and his scenes end up being corny as all hell due to it and his ultra hammy deliveries. Jaime King looks like she’s trying her best, but is losing the battle due to the incompetence of the director and script. Even Donal Logue can’t be convincing as a local drunk Santa with anger issues. He should be able to pull that one off in his sleep.
The only bright spot is the cinematography by Joseph White. He makes this bargain basement production look like a major Hollywood picture in a lot of ways, be it a creative lighting set-up or an unexpected angle that makes a mundane set look interesting. Outside of that I can’t say anything more positive about this mess except that he made a great looking movie destined for the direct-to-video heap. The “Garbage Day” reference put a slight grin on my face as well.

In this day and age I like to think that hungry young directors would be more interested in producing films that show their creativity and passion for their craft. Miller seems intent on being the next Albert Pyun, who keeps churning out garbage film after garbage film. If I were the person who presented him with his diploma from Full Sail University I’d demand that he give it back so I could burn it. This guy doesn’t deserve to call himself a director, a filmmaker or an artist. He’s a hack plain and simple and his “films” amount to nothing more than increments of time the audience will never be able to get back.

0.5 out of 5

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