Black Christmas

Black Christmas

Aside from Velvet Buzzsaw this was the disappointment of the year. I'm going to set aside my love of the original, as well as my semi-enjoyment of the remake. This is just a really poorly made film. I'll start with my few positives. For one, Imogen Poots is really great in the lead, I think she honestly did a great job. There's a character named Landon that I liked although he was used poorly, and there are one or two cool scenes. Other than that, aggravatingly poor.
I hate feeling bad about not liking a movie but this is one of those times. I'm mostly talking about that feeling where you try to like it so bad and let things slide but you just can't like it.
This film has 3 key issues. Number one, the sloppiness. The actual craft on display is really weak. Narratively messy throughout with pretty brutal dialogue. There are endless unnecessary zooms done in editing. The jump scares are not built up so they come across as purely cheap. I think I heard that the entire production took place this year, and it feels like it. This feels completely rushed, and it makes for an uninspiring watch. The early part of the film is completely tone mute, like genuinely not having a tone. But these shoddy production issues and lack of tone are things that usually lead to a 2/5 in this kind of film for me, the next two issues are why it's so low.
Number 2, the rating. This film is PG-13, which I have officially decided is unacceptable for a slasher movie unless it is gimmick based like Happy Death Day. The 2006 Black Christmas is bad, but at least it is vicious and violent enough to be fun at times. Almost every kill in this film is offscreen. They are typically jump scares where the killer shows up and we are left to assume their death. Even one death reveal is awful, as a face is slowly turned and then cut away from as soon as we can start to make out the blade stuck in it. All I ask for in a dumb cheesy slasher are fun kills, not even creative just fun, and there is such a seeming fear of showing on screen violence due to keeping a PG-13 rating that the film lacks what is so quintessential to the genre. These characters should be covered in blood and screaming "fuck" and they aren't, and why? So that 13 year olds can see this? This is a slasher set on a college campus that tackles some adult themes, make it more adult.
And the third key issue. The message. I love seeing female filmmakers offer their unique takes, especially in horror. Take Jennifer Kent for example, who delivered a masterpiece in The Babadook. I've heard good things about Sophia Takal's other work so I'd love to see her make something good. I'm also all for feminism as a key theme, it's very important to address. But this film takes "feminism" and goes so blatantly anti-man that it ultimately feels regressive. I fully agree with feminism and consider myself a feminist, but those who don't and aren't won't be after this, because the film takes an approach more likely to annoy that inform. The film's message feels almost like the sheep's plan in Zootopia, and she was the villain so it doesn't really work. Additionally, I doubt the kind of people that need to hear this message are unlikely to be the people seeing a female led slasher movie helmed by a female director with pink writing on the poster. Also I really don't fully understand what this film is trying to say, all I know is that it seems to be going to far with it and is doing so to a degree that just comes across as obnoxious. Messages are more effective when done with subtlety. Get Out for example draws you in to the compelling story and then leaves you thinking about its themes after. This film never shuts the fuck up about its themes, and in doing so forgets to at any point deliver a fun or compelling story. Equality and equal power are incredibly important, but this goes so far over the line its thesis loses strength.
I wanted to love this film. Upon seeing bad reviews I wanted to just sit back and have fun. But this doesn't allow that. It is a tonally bland PG-13 slasher with more emphasis on a questionable take on politics than providing viewers with the slasher experience, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't find myself enjoying it.

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