Tuesday, January 1, 2013

December to Dismember: SILENT NIGHT (2012)

This review was originally supposed to be up in
time for Christmas, but didn’t make it.  That’s okay because we’re breaking all the rules here at Video Junkie.  So you’re getting a December review in January.  Why did I miss my own deadline?  Well, it is a combination of utter laziness and SILENT NIGHT being the biggest lump of coal/shit you can ever imagine. This movie pissed me off so much that I started beating my kids…and I don’t have any kids!  So that means I was basically punching myself in the nuts for watching this utterly cynical and completely useless remake.

You know you’re in trouble right off the bat when non-talent Steven C. Miller opens his film with a SAW-tinged torture bit.  A killer Santa has a chick tied up and the guy she was cheating on her husband with wrapped in a bunch of Christmas lights in the basement. The guy pleads for his life but then realizes he isn’t dealing with his lover’s husband but some real “sick fuck.”  He comes to this realization a moment before being electrocuted.  And we are off!  Cut to Deputy Aubrey Bradimore (Jamie King) waking up lonely in bed.  You see it has been a year since she lost her hubby John and she is feeling down.  Not so understanding is Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell), who demands she come in today, Christmas Eve of all days, because another deputy has gone missing (the guy from the opening).  It is a big day for this sleepy Wisconsin town because they are having their annual parade of Santas, where seemingly every man in town dresses up like ol’ St. Nick. Oh lawd, here we go.

So Aubrey swallows her hurt and gets into work. It is here that director Miller and screenwriter Jayson Rothwell offer up a stunning succession of scenes that showcase they just don’t care or live in a world completely populated by caricatures.  Aubrey runs up on the Mayor, who has a slutty daughter, Tiffany (Courtney-Jane White), who tells him to fuck off; we get a bratty tween who slaps her mother’s heart medication (!) out of her hands, demands to go to the mall and screams, “Fuck church! I want my new LV today” at her (she gets killed right after this); we get perv Reverend Madeley (Curtis Moore) coming onto Aubrey; and we get a belligerent Santa (Donal Logue) who likes to be mean to bratty kids and keeps a journal about Santa Claus.  Can you see how badass this movie is?  I’m willing to bet Miller sat in meetings and said, “We’re gonna fuck this holiday up.” And we’re just getting started with this bad boy attitude as now we have the first direct scene from the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984).  Oh, did you forget this is a remake? Randomly shoehorned in is a scene where Dennis (Erik Berg) is visiting his catatonic Grandpa at an old folks’ home.  He mentions he is dating Tiffany and says to his Grandfather, “I’m boning her pretty regularly now” (yes, really) as he steals money from his wallet. Apparently a screenplay scenario this bad is enough to get Grandpa to snap out of his trance and he delivers the “Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year” dialogue. *sigh*

Meanwhile, the cops have discovered the dead bodies from the opening in the Myers place…er, sorry…an abandoned house.  On the other side of town Tiffany is visiting some cokeheads doing a Suicide Girls-style shoot in a seedy motel. Seriously, fuck off.  After she leaves, the killer Santa shows up and offs everyone including throwing the topless girl into a wood chipper.  Aubrey suspects former mill worker Stein Karsson (Mike O’Brien) is the killer because 1. she’s never seen him before and 2. he is wearing work boots similar to the prints left on the scene.  She confronts him at a bar and he tells her a story he heard about a guy dressed as Santa who torched his wife and her lover with a flamethrower back in the day (a cynical working in of this real life Santa killer).  But it turns out Stein is just the local cocaine dealer, Mr. Snow.  Jesus, let me wrap this up.  Aubrey begins doubting her policing skills and calls her former cop dad, who says, “This isn’t the first time a Bradimore had to bring down a bad Santa” (more on that in a bit).  A whole bunch of people get killed in the last half hour (including a pathetic recreation of Linnea Quigley’s deer antler death from the original) as the cops run around looking for the right Santa and – MAGICALLY -- the cop doubting their skills saves the day.  Cue end credits with shitty metal version of “Silent Night.”

It is almost fitting that this flick ends with a really crappy cover of a Christmas carol because that pretty much encapsulates this film – an attempt to take something well known and make it hard, dude.  Now horror historians won’t be crowning the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT as an all-time great.  But I will!  It isn’t the best Christmas horror movie, but it is certainly my favorite.  I mean, it is infinitely quotable, has plenty of Christmas spirit, is highly exploitative (to the point of creating massive controversy) and, believe it or not, has some pretty damning commentary on a number of issues (yes, really).  The fact that this remake mostly focuses on the exploitation factor should let you know how concerned the filmmakers were with making a good movie.  This is a group that openly created something so contemptuous that they wanted people to get upset by it.  It doesn’t work that way and has all the power of a kid with a Mohawk saying “fuck the system” while manning the register at Hot Topic.

Of course, we’re dealing with some nitwits who think everyone will be blown away by their final twist.  If you don’t want it spoiled, stop reading now.  Turns out the Santa killer is the grown up son of the flamethrower toting Santa from that flashback story.  And who just happened to gun his daddy down?  Why it was Aubrey’s dad (hence his aforementioned “bad Santa” line). Okay, let me get this straight – a guy is killing people on Christmas Eve and not a single damn person in the town seems to remember that Mr. Bradimore once shot and killed a guy dressed as Santa on Christmas Eve a few decades ago? Yeah, I guess Aubrey is right and her detective skills really, really suck.  Instead of going “hey, remember that case a few years ago” the cops run around chasing every red herring in the town.  Furthermore, if the guy is out for revenge, why is he killing all of the naughty people and sending them lumps of coal?  And how does he even know they are naughty?  I mean, when he kills the little girl, how did he know she was being a bitch to her mom beforehand?  The original film had a very simple storyline – Billy snaps, sees people doing things he deems naughty and kills them.  They couldn’t even follow this simple set up.  Of course, one has to wonder why this was even called a remake.  Outside of two scenes (and a “garbage day” reference; groooooan), this has nothing to do with the original.  Is Anchor Bay cynical enough to believe that calling it a remake will do enough to bolster a few more sales of the original?  Seeing as they just re-released the original in time for the remake to hit the streets, I’d say so.  They figured slap together a film with a killer Santa, throw in a horror fave (does McDowell ever say no?) and profit.  To quote the store owner being held up by Santa in the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT: “I see not all of it is phony sentiment.  Some of it is genuine greed.”

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