Yes, Black Christmas is pretty damned close to a lump of coal in the stocking of Holiday Films, in spite of the best efforts of the overall talented cast. In fact, Black Christmas is a serious waste of all kinds of piles of potential, making me all that much more surprised that this sprung from the chair and pen of Writer/ Director Glen Morgan. Morgan produced this movie with his Final Destination and X-Files podnuh James Wong and fourteen other credited producers, including original Black Christmas director Bob Clark. Throw in the musical score by the talented Shirley Walker and I have to wonder what happened.
Black Christmas isn't the worst horror film out there and at times it can be entertaining on several levels. However, the entire production is overwrought and scattershot, packed with fizzled ideas and lame moments until it collapses under its own weight. One of my main complaints about the original Black Christmas was its ambiguity and lack of explanation. This worked, and was intentional, but made for a less satisfying mystery. Glen Morgan's screenplay takes a few aspects of Roy Moore's original 1974 screenplay and plucks out the ideas that made him a fan. He then fills in the rest with an ambitious and half-baked mythos that fails to rise to the occasion. This version of Black Christmas explains it all, yes, yes... far too much and too obviously. This film boldly states what it's about to do... then does it. Wow... I'm chilled! But only because it's winter. In short: This is a "mystery" far less satisfying!
It's Christmas in the Delta Alpha Kappa Sorority House, which just happens to be the former family home of serial killer Billy Lenz (played, as an adult, by Robert Mann). If being frozen in a Sorority House on Christmas isn't bad enough, each girl has her own foible to deal with. Sadly, the characters weren't developed well enough for these to stand out. Jessica Harmon's Megan isn't feeling much Christmas Spirit as a video of her having sex with a geek has been leaked to the internet (and of better quality than One Night In Paris). Katie Cassidy's Kelli is an only child, enjoying being a "Sister", and balancing time with her new "family" and her boyfriend Kyle (Oliver Hudson), the aforementioned geek who has filmed carnal knowledge of Megan. Meanwhile, the religious Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is offended by the fact that every Christmas the Secret Santa event includes a gift to "Billy" as a superstitious method of warding off his evil. Meanwhile Lacey Chabert's Dana and Michelle Trachtenberg's Melissa are in a competition to see who the cuter (and more sarcastic) ex-TV star brunette is and Crystal Lowe's Lauren is competing with Barbie from the first movie to steal her prize as the hot drunk sorority girl (sorry, Margot, Crystal wins).
Meanwhile, in a sequence so tacked on you can see the hole in the print, Billy himself is planning his hackneyed escape plan from the mental institution he's been confined to since he killed his family and ate his mother on Christmas, just a few years ago. When Sorority Sister Claire (Leela Savasta) turns up missing (sounds familiar) her big sister Leigh (Kristen Cloke, Morgan's wife) shows up to look for her (sounds familiar). Before long Billy escapes and the girls are put at risk one by one.
Yes, that order is correct. Claire is iced in the opening sequence, long before Billy proclaims that his boots are made for walking, which declares with some certainty that there are at least two killers.
Once again, everyone is a suspect. Yawn. As in Bob Clark's original, the light of guilt is shined heavily on many characters, some so brilliantly that there is simply no logical possibility of them being the culprit whatsoever. Creepy sorority sister Eve (Kathleen Kole) is so obviously the killer that she obviously can't really be. Kyle even utters some of the film's catch lines so that the occasional thinkers in the audience might say "Duh, that's him!" These are only two possible villains whom the script and directing point very heavily toward. It gets to the point that Black Christmas becomes Hitchcock for the mentally challenged. You could drive a Troop Transport through the Plot Holes found here.
The real baddies show themselves before long to absolutely no surprise whatsoever. This too is predictable thanks to the cartoonish flashback sequences told by various characters to help point the guilty finger at them, one by one. There we redefine "too much information" as Morgan spells out each plot point in such vivid detail, it's hard to believe that he used to work on The X-Files. This includes, but isn't limited to, an explanation of Billy's psychopathy and appetites that focuses on (with an electron microscope's precision) his relationship with his parents (played by Peter Wilds and Karin Konoval), stepfather (Howard Siegel) and younger sister Agnes (Dean Friss). It all amounts to a well intentioned attempt and failure by someone who should know better! The red herrings are more like flashing Christmas lights here and the loose ends are enough to make your shoe fly off and pants fall down.
It is fun at times to attempt to lose yourself in the mystery here, especially if you're a fan of the original. Morgan and Wong take care to include imagery from the 1974 film as well as many of the themes, such as the obscene phone calls, an aspect of the killer's preferred methodology and even the ominous view of the closed attic door. Morgan even managed to convince Andrea Martin, who played Phyl in the original Phylm to return as Ms. Mac (though she claims she hadn't even thought of the 1974 film in years). Sadly, the mystery is blown piece by piece until there's nothing left to wonder about and Black Christmas quickly degenerates into a third-rate, predictable B-grade slasher film.
I was all set to give this film two stars until the insulting final act that ended up as corny as a whole bottle of Mazola! After that eye-rolling reel, it was clear to me that 2006's Black Christmas is a Dog! Hey, Hey Momma, it's a Black Dog! I hate to give any movie in which Crystal Lowe gets naked such a low score, but this one deserves it, just barely. It should be noted that Karin Konoval also gets naked, which isn't bad either. But Lowe gets me high, as we all know! It's been said (including by me) that without 1974's Black Christmas, there may have been no Halloween or Scream, or When a Stranger Calls. It's noteworthy that 2006's Black Christmas rips off every one of these movies to predictable and dull effect. The acting isn't bad, the music isn't bad, the ideas aren't so bad. The execution is simply not up to par. I'm still a Morgan and Wong fan, and I'm not completely turned off (yet) on all horror collaborations between MGM and Dimension, but this one is a swing and a miss. Next one... we'll see. See you in the next reel... just don't lock me in the attic, you yellow bastitch belland! Somebody needs to sort you out!
To make a movie this Gory.
Fake Guts and Fake Blood and Fake Brains and Fake Bone and Fake Skin and fake Eyes and Fake Remakes... Fake Glory!
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