This week sees the release of the trailer for Silent Night and ShockTillYouDrop.com spoke with the director Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale) to get a sense of what is to come from this “loose” remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Inside, Miller discusses the film’s origins, how he tried to put his stamp on the slasher genre and more.
In this redo, opening in theaters November 30th, a small-town sheriff (Malcolm McDowell) and deputy (Jaime King) go on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus terrorizing their community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santas for the annual Christmas parade, the killer is hiding in plain sight. He’s made his list, checked it twice, and the naughty are going to pay with their lives.
Shock Till You Drop: Early promo materials for the press are describing this movie as a loose remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night. How “loose” do you get with this remake?
Steven C. Miller: I got the script, so it came to me when they wanted to remake it, so I didn’t have much say in how loose it was – it was already pretty loose. Really, what I did was come in and try to give it as many homages to the original as I possibly could. When I got the script, it wasn’t really a remake, it was its own thing. I kept telling them that there really wasn’t anything from the original in the movie, so they did give me the freedom to go in and find the spots that made the most sense to go back to the original. Other than being a killer Santa Claus on Christmas movie, I wanted to get in there and try to figure out what scenes are similar to the original story.
Shock: Beyond that core concept – killer Santa – is this a pure ’80s slasher throwback?
Miller: Yeah, it is. Definitely. I think people who know me by now know that I’m a lover of ’80s cinema and for this movie, especially a slasher film, it’s a killer Santa, I wanted to have a lot of fun with it. Throw it back to the ’80s and have a blast. It’s brutal and fun and there’s also a dark humor going on. I didn’t want it to be laughably funny, but there is a dark comedic streak running through it that I wanted to come out.
Shock: Talk a bit about this cast you have…
Miller: They came on because I came into this saying I wanted to have fun with it and they really responded to it. We only had 17 days to make the movie and I needed a cast that understood the script, understand the tone and could move. We just banged it out. The energy of the cast really translates and makes the film.
Shock: Who is the lead? Is it Malcolm McDowell or is it Jaime King?
Miller: It’s a split between Malcolm and Jaime. We’re really through the eyes of Jaime but Malcolm sort of comes in and takes over a bit. It’s so f**kin’ cool because it’s so hard not to have Malcolm on screen and feel like he’s taking the movie. But it really a split piece and we’re trying to figure out what’s happening on Christmas through the eyes of a new cop who has this pressure on her to be a great cop. It’s all about catching Santa…
Shock: The flame thrower is the key weapon on the poster but how many instruments of death does Santa use in this film?
Miller: Santa comes in at around, I think, 14 kills and he uses, I think, seven or eight different instruments. He’s definitely using an ensemble in his bag but the flame thrower is a main piece, but we don’t want to forget about the axe.
Shock: Obviously we’re living in different times, but when the original Silent Night, Deadly Night came out, parent advocacy groups came out in the press tearing the film down. If you’re film came out in the ’80s, do you think they’d be pissed off? Can you see a similar backlash happening perhaps today over the movie?
Miller: Yeah, it’s very possible. Any time Santa Claus is killing kids and portrayed in a light where he is deadly, you’re going to get that. I’m not sure how much of that is going to happen today because there seems to be a lot more acceptance and we’re not living in the ’80s where everybody was so innocent. Do I think there could be [backlash]? Definitely. Do I think there will be? Probably not.
Shock: We’ve seen you tackle a few sub-genres in horror. How much fun was it for you to exercise your slasher muscles?
Miller: Even though this is a slasher throwback to the ’80s, slasher films back then felt like they moved a bit slow to me, so with Silent Night, I wanted to make it more of a visceral piece. Even with Santa and the way he moves, I wanted to keep it visceral and fast-paced. I guess that’s the approach I took. There’s a momentum to it that propels the film along.