I won't bother going into the boring details of my personal thoughts on remakes as that always seems to be so much of the focus when actually sitting down to review one. It's almost as if you need to explain your stance beforehand. It's as simple as I enjoy them so long as they are good, which is the case with any film I watch, essentially. Last Death-cember brought about a review of Bob Clark's Black Christmas, a film that I simply adore for a number of reasons, many of which you can learn about by reading that review. Go ahead, I'll wait for you to read it…back already? Okay, so It's a year later now, and I figured it would be kind of fun (heavy focus on kind of) to watch and review the 2006 remake of, Black Christmas. So that's what I did, obviously. I mean, I am writing a review for it, aren't I?
Moving on, the film has a basic set-up with a group of sorority sisters getting knocked off one-by-one on Christmas Eve. Easy enough, right? Well, not so much as things take a complicated turn when it is revealed as to why someone is killing them. As opposed to the original film, there is no actual mystery as to who is behind the murders. *SPOLIERS!* In fact, it's all simply laid out on the table in what is a number of lengthy and obnoxiously overbearing flashbacks, detailing a story about some creep ball named Billy, whom was locked in the attic for many years after he witnessed his abusive mother and her new boy toy murder his father.
Now, Billy's ma dukes is, well, to put it simply, cock hungry and one night when her man is too drunk to fuck, she decides that it's time make up for all the years of abuse she put him through by going up in the attic and banging him. Naturally, this one time encounter results in Billy's mom becoming pregnant with her own son's child. I know, gross. Oh, and if that wasn't strange enough, I should probably mention that Billy is yellow? Like, for whatever reason, dude has yellow skin and that is partially why his mother hated him, even though she would eventually bone him. Yellow. Multivitamin colored urine, yellow. All of this whacky nonsense results in a murder spree thanks to a recently escaped from a mental asylum Billy and his inbred daughter, who looks a lot like Nicole Bass, come to think of it. *END SPOILERS!*
Black Christmas - or, Black X-Mas as it was sometimes marketed as when trying to capture the attention of those kids and their skateboards – is a remake of a film that is considered to be very influential on the Slasher and horror genre. It's looked at as a classic of sorts. This time around, you have a film that is influenced by the success of remakes and in return is lumped in with an era of unoriginality. It would seem to have the exact opposite reputation of its influence, and essentially does little to discern itself from the pack, despite its incredibly odd backstory.
Even though I somewhat appreciate the bold (and bonkers) story choices that were made in a Hollywood driven remake, it all feels so cheap. Like, if you really need to spend more than 25 minutes explaining backstory, you are doing no service to the characters at hand. You know, the ones we are supposed to care about in the present day. Not that they're the types of horror characters that one can actually feel for as they are about as interesting as a mouth full of yellow starburst and all that blame can be placed solely on the writing. This is a group of female characters that are as uninspired and uninteresting as it gets, which is very unfortunate with a cast that is actually very solid.
The mostly all female cast consist of a slew of familiar faces, many of which I actually really enjoy watching on screen. Of course, I may be biased as I find most of the actresses to be more than easy on the eyes, and this is certainly a great looking cast for sure, but I do appreciate them for their acting as much as their physical appeal. I mean, casting Lacey Chabert and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is certainly a positive mark for me, but to give them no meat to chew on (yowza!) with their bland characters, then they are nothing more than good actresses that are being used simply as objects of visual stimulation. The actresses aren't challenged with characters that have depth nor are they interesting in any way, shape or form. Pretty girls in a film that seems to be a little too much about veneer, which doesn't end with the cast.
I'm sure many would be quick to piss on it, but in my opinion, Black Christmas is actually a pretty solid film on a technical level. It's not comparable to the original, at all, but there are a fair share of standout shots to be found in the film. In addition, what is possibly the only thing that writer/director Glen Morgan semi-successfully carried over from the '74 film is a nice looking Christmas aesthetic. To be fair, there is no way someone could recreate the awesome holiday look of the original without making a movie set in the 70s (and I would LOVE to see Ti West take a shot), but I would say that this is close to as good as can be done for a modern day set holiday tale. I simply love Christmas decorations, and right from the first shot of the film, with a great looking house covered in fat Christmas light bulbs, I actually became incredibly pumped for the movie. What can I say, I'm easily memorized by pretty lights and colors. And women.
In the end, there are just barely enough positives that keep Black Christmas from being a complete lump of coal. There are a good amount of kills, most of which are decent but they are also very repetitive. It seems the only way someone can die in this movie is to be stabbed in the eye(s) with a bag over their head. As far as modern day Slasher films go, Black Christmas is sub par, but not a complete loss. The wild Billy backstory, the pretty Christmas lights, the attractive cast and a scene where Billy eats flesh made Christmas cookies makes Black Christmas worth at least a viewing. It's the type of holiday Slasher film that will be nice to pop in every few years when something different is needed outside of the usual suspects.