Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Black Christmas

A remake of a remake, this new take on the 1973 horror classic and its poor 2006 rethink doesn’t have much to do with either but proves interesting – and disappointing – for being a #MeToo slasher movie.

Co-written and directed by Sophia Takal, and with co-producer Jason Blum on board as part of his prolific, genre-happy Blumhouse Productions, this keeps the central premise of the last two pics – a bunch of teens alone on a college campus over Christmas and picked off by a killer – but updates and complicates everything, while also stopping for messaging and commentary that slows the plot down badly. Also controversial was the decision to chop back the violence and carnage to receive the box-office-friendly US PG-13 censorship rating, meaning that we can see where the gore originally went, but it’s almost all been choppily cut out.

Prestige English player Imogen Poots is Riley, a student at Hawthorne College somewhere in America (but this was actually filmed in New Zealand for some reason). She’s been traumatised from an assault by a grinning scumbag named Brian (Ryan McIntyre) and has retreated into herself a little because no one believed her, and now she faces spending Christmas on campus with her three besties, all of whom have nowhere to go too.

There’s a great deal going on that tries hard to be political, even if much of it is awkward: Phil (Ben Black) is a potential date-rapist whose conduct would never, ever be allowed in any college these days; a bust of the College founder has recently been removed due to revelations that he was a conservative white slave trader; and slimy Professor Gelson (slimy Cary Elwes) might be losing his job due to racist rants.

Several gutless (in more ways than one) murders intrude into all of this pontificating, and then Riley, hard-leftie Kris (Aleyse Shannon), Marty (Lily Donoghue) and Jesse (Brittany O’Grady) wind up stalked, with Marty’s gormless boyfriend Nate (Simon Mead) on hand to utter the old ‘Not All Men’ defense. And, into the last act, we’re hit with some whopper twists in a final sequence that proves completely unexpected, moderately intriguing and unbelievably ridiculous, all at once.

It’s amusing to consider how outraged blokey horror fans will be when they turn up for this one and get precious little blood and gruesomeness (an icicle in the heart, a quick strangulation with Christmas lights) but, instead, receive a sermon on misogyny and male privilege. Merry Christmas!

Reviewer Rating

Black Christmas (M) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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