It's Christmas Eve in a small Midwestern town, but all is not calm nor is there anything bright about this long, wintry night, because there's a killer on the loose; a killer dressed up as Santa Claus. As this Santa Psycho goes about slaying all who dare to be naughty, it's up to the local police to try to stop the killer and put an end to a nightmare that has haunted the town for far longer than just this one night.
Directed by Steven C. Miller, Silent Night is, on paper, a remake of the 1984 Santa Slashterpiece, Silent Night, Deadly Night, though, outside of a few nods and the fact that it's a Christmas Slasher film featuring a killer dressed up as Santa, the film has almost nothing in common with its predecessor. Silent Night very well could have been titled Santa's Slaughter or Naughty, Not Nice, and no one would have batted a lash, let alone cried about there being "another remake?!"
As the tagline "He Knows Who's Been Naughty" suggests, Santa (Rick Skene) seemingly has the 411 on every scum bag this town has to offer, and he makes it a point to pay each and every one of them a personal visit. The film proudly presents a handful of less than respectable characters for the audience to root against almost to the point of folly. Some of these characters/victims include a couple participating in adultery, pornographers, a selfish little girl with the mouth of a sailor, a perverted priest who likes to dip into the collection jar, and, well, you probably get the picture. The fashion in which these characters are presented was concerning at first, as I don't need to be goaded into rooting for characters to die when, well, it's why I'm watching the film. Thankfully, however, the near irritation I felt with how these characters were handled subsided before it became a real problem, and soon enough I got on board with the over-the-top fashion in which they were presented.
The anchor of Silent Night is Aubrey (Jaime King), a police woman dealing with some issues from her past that are affecting her confidence as an officer of the law. King stands out with a good performance for a film that some might not believe calls for it. She has a way of emoting without feeling phony, and she's able to bring the character to life in a way that commands a dash of sympathy. Malcolm McDowell also appears in the film as Sheriff Cooper, a cocky know-it-all who somehow goes from being an asshole to being an asshole that you kind of love. McDowell gleefully chews up nearly every scene he's in a way that is difficult not to enjoy.
There is clearly a common theme in Silent Night, and that's how awful and cruel this world can be sometimes, something that, for certain people, is greatly enhanced during the holiday season. "Christmas can really mess people up" is a phrase uttered by more than one character, specifically characters who are trying to make a few bucks during the holidays by playing Santa. Dressed up as the physical incarnation of their own misery, or the physical incarnation of where their misery is being projected, which is almost poetic if not for the fact that the message is a tad heavy-handed. I appreciate the thought, though.
The film is nicely put together in a way that seems to be almost the standard for some of the better modern day horror films of similar notoriety. There are a few visual moments that stand out in an impressive way, and there was clearly a lot of thought and care put into certain details that slightly elevate the movie from being just a simple, modern-day Holiday themed Slasher flick. With that said, some of the most notable moments, thankfully, belonging to the kills, as Silent Night serves up some gruesomely fun and satisfying death scenes. From start to finish, the limbs are flying and the blood is spurting, but there is one specific scene involving a wood chipper that is not only THE highlight of Silent Night, it's certainly a candidate for best death scene of 2012.
Silent Night surprised me in two ways: One being that it is a very solid, well made and completely entertaining Slasher film. The other is the fact that the film is directed by Steven C. Miller, who is the director behind the low-budget zombie film, Automaton Transfusion, a movie I absolutely hated. And I mean HATED. Hated in a way where I would have never expected the director to do anything even remotely good, so I suppose I should tip my proverbial cap to Miller for stepping up his game and giving me a good reason to keep an eye on his future projects.
Silent Night succeeds as a remake by shedding the skin of the film that would influence its creation, while delivering the classic Slasher goods to near perfection. You aren't getting anything groundbreaking with this one, which should be apparent, one would assume, but that's not the goal when it comes to making a good, or at least moderately fun, Slasher film. Keep it simple, follow the basics and deliver the goods, and all will go to sleep with a smile on their face. Well, unless they've been naughty, that is. In which case, maybe their night might be a little more silent than expected…