Black Christmas

Black Christmas ★½

While on paper the idea of a feminist slasher horror film which knowingly calls out the misogynistic tropes of the sub-genre is a great one, the handling of this latest in a string of low-budget, rushed Blumhouse productions is exceptionally poor.

Firstly, why did this need to be a remake of Bob Clark's 1974 slasher prototype? Who is this pleasing? Fans of the original will be up in arms at this film; while the generation it's aimed at would have come to see it regardless of what it was called.

Secondly, for the love of all that is pure, would marketing companies stop giving away every FUCKING plot beat when they cut trailers for films?! The trailer for Black Christmas reveals the ENTIRE damn film, right down to the climatic scene. It's disgraceful that any small chance this film had of being suspenseful (see below) is robbed by idiot marketers trying to get bums in seats on opening weekend before The Rise of Skywalker cuts Black Christmas in two with one swipe of its red lightsaber.

Both of those complaints, however, have little to do with the product that director Sophia Takal and co-writer April Wolfe have delivered here. Everything below does.

Once again, here is a horror film which is not even remotely scary. Takal has little sense of how to build fear or atmosphere, with only one scene in an attic even coming close. The rest of the time the film rests on tried cliches, poor jump scares, and obvious music cues. Takal even attempts to evoke The Exorcist III's most famous scare ... and fails dismally.

The "horror" of the film is also completely neutered by having this cut to maintain a PG-13 rating (so, M here in Australia, which makes it puzzling that we got a series of MA trailers before the film...) Furthermore, Takal's choice to evoke the 70s with repeated slow zooms and pull outs becomes distracting early on and rarely improves the viewing experience.

The script contains numerous examples of horrendous dialogue and the usual one-trait characters doing dumb things to further the plot (let's hunt inside with a bow and arrow because - phallic symbol aside - that makes perfect sense!), so it perpetuates the usual complaints people have about horror films. But its message - whilst a very important one that could have been explored in a meaningful and thought-provoking way (think Get Out) - is so clumsily handled that it comes across as almost comical.

The film's saving grace is Imogen Poots as protagonist Riley. She plays a survivor of a sexual assault and is the one to first sense things are awry, and her scenes when she is trying to convince others of this are the best in the film. But other than Aleyse Shannon as Kira, her best friend and the main feminist of the group, none of the other sisters stand out in any way. They are all just fodder for the killer and in some cases, exist purely to serve a weird twist that has no bearing on the film and should have been excised from the first draft of the script.

Still, I'm not the target audience for this, so take my criticisms with a grain of salt. But if the smattering of late teens/early 20s patrons filtering out of the opening night session I attended are anything to go by, their quiet "what the fuck was that?" type comments bode no better for the success of this one than my critique.

1.5 Magic Hair Clips for Black Christmas.

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