Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Christmas Lacking in Festive Cheer

Extremely short post today as i'm tired, have an early start tomorrow and didn't mean to leave it this late until writing.

I'm simply going to post a quick review of a film i watched with my house mate last night.

Black Christmas (Morgan, 2006)
Crimson stained snow, stranglings by fairy lights and film history's least appetising Christmas cookies; 'Black Christmas' is a film that revels in tarnishing as many holiday traditions as it can.

It is one of those films that is so bad it becomes enjoyable. It's a horror film set in a sorority house on Christmas eve and deals with a maniac escaping from a mental hospital and returning to his old home, now the sorority house, and attempting to kill the girls off one by one. The maniac's name is Billy and compared to some horror films he's actually given some back story as to how he became quite so homicidal, with his childhood involving initially neglect and then treatment that makes the neglect look almost like good parenting. You almost begin to develop some sympathy for his character, a surprising emotional connection that you wouldn't expect from a film like this, only for that to be ruined by a particularly grisly bit of Christmas cooking.

The film is full of moments that will mean you'll never look at a number of iconic Christmas objects and traditions in the same way. The film reminded me of 'Home Alone' in some ways, with brutal violence being inflicted in a big house with an improbable number of hiding places; just in 'Black Christmas' decides to take the Christmas themed antics but turn the gore up to 11. Every possible moment is drawn out and made as blood drenched and gory as possible; resulting, as so often is the case, with you having reached saturation point in terms of being freaked out long before the film builds to a climax.

In fact it's pretty much threats and violence from the very beginning with none of the lengthy build up to the first attack that is so customary in horror films to build up the tension; Morgan seems disinterested in ramping up any real anxiety in his audience, the few moments where the on screen violence lets up and we are allowed time to wonder what will happen next are hamstrung by characters who are seemingly desperate to fall into the exact kind of horror clich├ęs that the 'Scream' series parodied. There were two or three moments in the film where you will be almost willing the maniac to get some of the people in the house, they're that stupid and annoying, though i doubt that was the director's intention.

Maybe it's just me personally, but when horror is done this badly it becomes enjoyable in it's own right, almost like it's an inadvertent parody of the genre, and when viewed in that light 'Black Christmas' is great. Watch it with friends and spot the plot holes, shake your head at the infinitely flawed decision making and cross your fingers that you never have a Christmas as bad as this, in either sense.

2/5 or 4/5 (dependant on how you choose to watch it)

To finish the blog today is a favourite song of mine, definitely one of the best to come out of the 1990's.

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