Silent Night, Deadly Night was a totally unhinged movie – wrong on many levels, often hilarious, often pitch black in its tonal direction and unabashedly sadistic.
If the remake was anything less than that, then it would fail.
Fortunately, for director Steven C. Miller, his “loose” redo Silent Night hits all of the right marks, giving us one more wicked horror film to revisit each holiday season. Slick and vicious, this Santa-run-amok thriller delivers on the slasher goods, delicately balancing familiar elements of the original film while introducing an all new level of contemporary naughtiness that allows Miller’s film to stand on its own.
The story is ridiculously simple. A killer dressed as Santa Claus descends on a small town – which raises hell for Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell) and his deputies, including Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King). The latter is a widow, celebrating the holidays alone for the first time. Her grief is assuaged by none other than the fact that bodies are beginning to pile up around town and she can do nothing other than focus on the Santa murder spree (we never do find out what happened to her hubby). And what a fine murder spree it is as Claus – looking very menacing with a haunting mask, blackened eyes and grungy costume – skewers, electrifies, roasts and strangles the town’s residents.
And, certainly, there are the inevitable red herrings like Santa Jim – a scene-stealing Donal Logue in a Santa suit who delivers a monologue near the film’s conclusion that is delivered with so much conviction you’d think Logue was in an entirely different movie.
Who is the killer? Well, that’s where things get a bit clunky in execution…but honestly, this is all about the mayhem and Miller comes to the table with his sleeves rolled up, ready to get bloody. While the first kill of Silent Night is festive in its delivery, it’s Santa’s second on-screen victim – let’s just say she’s a young one – where you realize all bets are off and there are really no limits to where the film will go. Miller’s clearly having a good time and so is McDowell, barking quips and random analogies about burger toppings while dispensing lines about the “smell of fear.”
Silent Night is not without its flaws, but it’s exactly the type of movie it needs to be – crazy, occasionally silly and always gory. Relish this holiday junk food treat with me.