When you hear the premise of Black Christmas, it actually sounds kind of fun: a sorority house is visited by a mysterious serial killer on Christmas Eve, and the police are unable to help because of the snowstorm. There is something oddly enticing about watching a group of ditzy girls-gone-wild being plucked off one by one. ‘Tis the season to enjoy some bloodshed with your eggnog, right?
Not in this case. Black Christmas, a remake of the 1974 cult classic, is the type of brainless, horribly executed film that will make diehard horror fans want to wreak some havoc of their own. Following the critically slammed When A Stranger Calls, Black Christmas is another lame slasher retread that is DOA.
Instead of going home for the holidays, a group of personality-free sorority girls (Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michelle Trachtenberg, to name a few) bring in the holiday cheer with their house mother, Ms. Mac (Andrea Martin). The sparkling tree is up and everything is lovely. But then their cell phones start ringing, and it's not their ex-boyfriends calling in drunken hazes to recite Christmas carols.
On the other end of the line is raging psycho Billy (Robert Mann), who escapes from a mental institution—using a sharpened candy cane as a handy escape prop—after serving 15 years for killing his mother and stepfather. He returns to his childhood home, now inhabited by the sorority sisters, and kills off the new residents with a deranged sidekick, using the phones to broadcast their murders while declaring, "You're my family now."
Black Christmas tries really hard to be scary, yet there is nothing terrifying about any of it. The gore factor is pretty high—with eyeballs being gouged, dangled from the tree and occasionally eaten—but everything looks like it was shot by an amateur film student with a shoestring budget. This is a surprising bust coming from writer-director Glen Morgan, a man who showed a knack for suspense and humor with Final Destination .
Since the film isn’t frightening, it should at least be fun, which it certainly isn’t. The gang of sorority girls seem like a big, faceless blob; all they do is recite trite catchphrases (Chabert mumbles, “I’d like to bury the hatchet with my sister…right in her head!”) and wear clingy tops. They are such a boring bunch that even their murders induce more yawns than gasps.
As for the backstory of how Billy became a foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic, it feels like the kind of dated setup that may have stunned people decades ago, but certainly not today. Let’s just say it involves a kid spending his childhood locked in an attic, and a mother with misplaced sexual desires, who would feel right at home on an episode of Maury Povich. And, to add insult to injury, the pathetic story isn’t even in the 1974 version—it is brand new, created just for the redux.
Black Christmas is a dud on a massive scale, the type of film that the people involved will coat in whiteout on their future resumes. It's safe to say that this is one Christmas package best left rotting under the tree.
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