Black Christmas

Black Christmas ★★★★½

#52FilmsByWomen 2019 pt. 58.

As many of my letterboxd followers know, I live in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, which before it became a national symbol for the rebirth of white supremacist populism was best known as the home of founding father, independence declarer, noted slave rapist Thomas Jefferson and the university he founded as the most enduring legacy of his hypocrisy.
As all of my letterboxd followers know, I have no interest in objective film criticism; I begrudge nobody their right to judge a film on political grounds, god knows my reasons for loving this film are rooted in its politics, but I will declare categorically that anybody who hates this is either Mr. "all remakes suck," Mr. "all PG-13 horror sucks," Mr. "keep your progressive politics out of my slasher movies," or a run-of-the-mill Ghostbusters 2016-hating MRA fuckboy. Because this is a great horror movie, a great #MeToo movie, and a great litmus test for people I fux with.

Sophia Takal has a flawless horror filmography in the psychosocial minefield of female friendship and power, which is where the two previous Black Christmas films dug their thematic foundations, but nothing could have prepared me for the obdurate blast of righteous polemic rage this throws in the viewer's face. Still, those who will accuse this film of lacking subtlety or character depth aren't paying enough attention. The camera is always positioning itself behind door frames and windows shrinking the frame, hemmed in characters and the omnipresent heavy wood and stone, the cold materials of the master's house who will be damned if any women try to undo all the work we've done to box them in. Two key shots make use of the warped glass of an old, old window, the stagnant energy of deathless institutions distorting our view of what's really going on. Riley's character journey from self-isolating victim to reluctant activist to literal smasher of the patriarchy is inspiring in its inevitability: this is why we make and watch movies.

If you or someone you know has never been a victim of campus rape, that's a position of privilege this film takes justified pride in disillusioning you from. It's a necessary film to usher in the battle for America's soul known as 2020, and the fact that I could walk into a multiplex and pay money to see something so radical that feels like it slipped through the corporate cracks gives me some kind of weird hope.

It's really hard to hate Blumhouse as much as I want to when they keep putting out shit like this. I love the Exorcist III quote! I love "I like beer," "your body your choice," and all the other hashtags and ripped from the headlines digs at how the regressive right perverts progressive language! I just love the honest to god earnestness of it all. This is one of the more rambling reviews I've written because there's so much to dissect and a million things I could talk about--remake taxonomy, slasher conventions, the hard left this takes in the last act, symbolism, metatextual Cary Elwes--and maybe I will one day because this is a made-to-order 6-foot sub of a movie that I'll happily keep chewing and digesting. Deck the halls and destroy the patriarchy you beautiful fucking cultural Marxists.

Cf. The First Purge

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