Black Christmas (2006)
Directed by Glen Morgan
When I first heard that the Final Destination team of Glen Morgan and James Wong were going to remake the Bob Clark classic Black Christmas, I was very optimistic. I have been a fan of Morgan and Wong’s work since their “X-Files” days when they were responsible for the bulk of the series’ best episodes. Then when I heard that Bob Clark himself would be involved, I thought that this could be really cool. How very, very wrong I was.
As a little boy, Billy Lenz had a loving father and a mean and nasty mother. One Christmas little Billy witnessed his mother kill his loving father. As his mother and her lover tried to dispose of the body, Billy was caught watching them and was locked away in the attic to keep out of their way. Oh, and for some unexplained reason Billy had a disease that made his skin and eyes yellow (my guess is just to make him look creepy). Years later (again for reasons unexplained) Billy’s mother climbs up into the attic and has sex with him and ends up getting pregnant, and of course the stepfather believes the child to be his own. She gives birth to a baby girl, which they name Agnes. Agnes’ eighth Christmas is when Billy decides that he has had enough and snatches Agnes from under the tree, then proceeds to kill his mother and stepfather. He then takes Christmas cookie cutters and jams them into their flesh and bakes them like cookies, which you’ve likely seen in all the trailers. He’s arrested in the kitchen while he eats them, and off he goes to a mental asylum.
Years later and the former Lenz residence is now a sorority house that apparently only hot chicks are allowed to live it; for God’s sake even the nerdy girl is hot. Well, in a nutshell Billy escapes and is coming back home to kill on Christmas Eve. Later I guess it’s supposed to be a big twist when it is revealed that Billy and his daughter Agnes are the ones doing the killing, but that just leads to more unintentional comedy. Billy and Agnes are being played by the same person, actor Robert Mann, who much like his name is a man and looks like a crazed tranny when playing the role of Agnes.
The filmmakers could have done a straight remake of Black Christmas and maybe added a little something new to it, which had the potential to be a great film. Instead they took everything that was great about the original film and tossed it out the window. They traded in suspense and creepiness for gore and shock tactics.
It’s a good-looking film. The detail in the set design and lighting is impressive, the one exception being the incredibly fake looking snow. As far as story goes, the writing is just plain awful. This story is so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh, and there are so many plot flaws and on-screen mistakes that I wouldn’t know where to begin to point them all out. Some of this could have been the product of bad editing, which was also a major gripe I had about the film. As Andrew pointed out in his article, there was apparently a creative struggle between the filmmakers and the studio, which could be to blame for some of the film’s problems, but I can’t believe it's responsible for all of them; there are just too many problems with it.
As far as the kills go, they took every possible Christmas death scenario and used it to the fullest. This is something the original stayed away from and for good reason: because it’s just silly. The deaths are on par with Morgan and Wong’s work in the Final Destination films, a series that is supposed to be ridiculous and over the top. The audience I was watching the film with seemed to enjoy it, but that was because it was so funny; too bad Black Christmas never had any intention of being funny.
Overall we have yet another remake that’s just one big mess. I really hope that Black Christmas will at least influence the modern day horror audience to check out the original version on DVD, which is a very underrated classic that influenced films such as Halloween and When a Stranger Calls. Sadly that most likely will not happen. Maybe my review can. Go buy the original!
2 out of 5
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