Black Christmas

Black Christmas ★★★★½

i felt kind of mixed on this movie at first: sometimes the dialogue is really on the nose and you cringe, but then i think, well they're not wrong really! and i wish we got to spend more time with the characters interacting, but imogen poots obviously rules here. sometimes it is a little more tell than show. and it doesn't always seem that interested in affect or atmosphere or setpieces per se, but it really works as a hangout slasher, which is my favorite kind. and the home invasion segment in the house lit by neon christmas lights is a banger! and i found the song and dance call out your rapist scene super cathartic! i genuinely loved the movie's world. and you can tell how much passion went into this.

i worry this review is going to sound like damning with faint praise or condescending, but the more it sits with me the more i love it. i just wonder if its being criticized because instead of being arch, it's really earnest. like men can make hundreds of embarrassing misogynistic-to-varying-degrees movies, but women really do often get held to a higher standard. like if you want it to be Good, it has to be Perfect in order to be worth anything at all. and whatever, screw that. what i want is a horror genre filled with movies by women that can be wonderful or terrible or bad or dumb or brilliant or perfect. a whole spectrum. which we have never had, but maybe could be a thing we have.

i'm not saying this is one (it is very thoughtful about what it's doing), but i love tons of lunkheaded slashers that care far less than this movie does, and there is so much good here that its occasional clunkiness or "cringe" totally become a feature for me not a bug. i like it BECAUSE of those things. this movie is getting dragged as an "SJW" movie (eyeroll), but i find its earnestness extremely refreshing, and its heart is in a really good place. and i would love dozens more like it.

i think, for me too, there is really something to Riley shrinking and disappearing, in the movie's terms, in the face of trauma that felt real/that i identified with, and it is transmuted into a kind of righteous, reclamatory joy by the end. just because something is obvious or has become cliche thru repetition doesn't mean it's not true or that it doesn't have depth if you stop to think about it. and i think there is something special about making what has always been implicit in slashers into something defiantly explicit. and i am down with that. after being bummed out by some rly dark movies that are almost hopeless, i value a zeal for resistance and empowerment that is powerfully idealistic. i'll gladly celebrate a degree of naivete over a hopeless resignation, or worse a kind of smugness.

i really feel like it might get love/re-evaluated like ten years down the line the same way 06 black christmas did. and maybe this will be meaningful to a younger generation of horror kids for whom the horror world before they were born might seem hopelessly retrograde. i find it rly lovely that it isn't a horror movie that requires excavation or reclamation. it's right there on top.

this is a rly messy review, but i wanted to at least try to write something. i am basically incapable of not being embarrassingly earnest myself so i identify with where it's coming from. ultimately, i think what's rly valuable about it is that, no matter anything else, it genuinely and wholeheartedly feels and thinks the things it says and does, and i really admire that. more please.

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