The F*cking Black Sheep: Silent Night (2012)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!



Ho ho ho mofo! Quick, off top, what are the best all time Christmas horror flicks? Or, at least some of your favorites? In order, I’d say BLACK CHRISTMAS, GREMLINS and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT rank among the absolute best. How about you?

Of course, two of the aforementioned three have already been remade for the 21st century crowd, and it’s probably just a matter of time before GREMLINS gets the once over as well. After all, that PG-13 spawning hellion is indeed the most family friendly of the lot. Here’s Santa’s dirty little secret though. BLACK CHRISTMAS 2006 is actually far better than people give it credit for, likely due to the obstinate, unbending love of the original. And you know what guys and gals, same goes for SILENT NIGHT (2012), Steven C. Miller’s honorable homage to one of the nastiest, most flagrantly cynical and nihilistic slasher films of all in SNDN. Look, is SILENT NIGHT a masterwork? No. Does it surpass or even rival the original? Not close. However, given the way it was summarily dismissed upon release, there’s little doubt that SILENT NIGHT has been unduly panned, drubbed and all but forgotten in the last five years as well. In that regard, you bet your frozen gonads SILENT NIGHT is a F*cking Black Sheep. Wanna know why? Merry F*cking Christmas!

While the skeletal plotline of SILENT NIGHT indeed borrows from its 1984 predecessor, it’s important to note that the film was also inspired, in part, by what’s now referred to as the Covina Holiday Massacre. Check it. Back on Christmas Eve of 2008, a psychopathic murderer dressed in a Santa Suit, equipped with a 9mm in one hand and homemade flamethrower gift-wrapped in the other, showed up at his newly divorced wife’s family Christmas party in Covina, California. Upon the door opening, this sick f*ck proceeded to shoot and flame nine individuals to death– children and octogenarians alike - before fleeing the scene holing up and shooting himself dead. Simply unthinkable. Yet, this is why the use of a flamethrower in SILENT NIGHT was designed to be so prominent.

Now on to the movie itself. SILENT NIGHT stars the always loveable Jaime King (MY BLOODY VALENTINE, MOTHER’S DAY) as bereaved and newly installed Milwaukee deputy Aubrey Bradimore who serves under the wing of irascible Sheriff Cooper (the always entertaining Malcolm McDowell). As the story picks up on Christmas Eve, the two coppers go hot on the trail of a serial murderer, dressed in a Santa Suit and plastic mask, who is viciously slaughtering the townsfolk one by one. A great feature about the flick is how it wastes nary a second before shedding copious amounts gore. Seriously, seconds after the opening credits, we get a colorful kill in the form of a Christmas lights electrocution, which is both a nice nod to, and evil escalation of, one of the death modes in the original SNDN. Speaking of, it’s also a nose-thumbing touch to set the film in Milwaukee, where most of the heavily publicized protests of the original film took place. Miller sticking it to the man!

Other notable nods to the original(s) that compare quite well include the infamous antler-impalement poor Linnea Quigley suffered back in ’84. Here we’re given not just a fun foreshadow of such, but a much more graphic and grueling exaction of a sexy young blonde have her back and bosom speared and punctured to death, ending with her hanging like a hunted trophy off the wall. The other is a line reading, and is subtle enough to go unnoticed. The line, “what is it, garbage day?” is a clear in-joke reference to SNDN 2, in which deranged Billy utters the line in such a ridiculously histrionic way it’s become a viral hit sensation even now, over 30 years later. Rightly so, shite’s hilarious!

To that end, one of the things I love about SILENT NIGHT, aside from it being a very solid, efficient, brutally violent slasher joint, is the way a bit of yuletide cheer spices up the nog. BLACK CHRISTMAS and SNDN are notable for being wickedly bleak, sans a shred of humor. Not the case with SILENT NIGHT. There’s a slightly lighter air to the film, mainly due to the hilarity of Malcolm McDowell (“what do you think this is, Glee?”) and Donal Logue as besotted Santa Jim (who’s currently killing it as Jim Gordon on Gotham). The comedy’s not quite campy or cartoonish, or even all that silly, but it does depart quite a bit tonally from the unbroken dark streak the original boasts so well. As a result, there’s an added pleasance to the homicidal presents!

And boy oh boy we’d be remiss not to mention the wicked wood chipper scene. Yes, FARGO will always reign supreme in this subcategory, but damn that poor topless softcore porn model (Cortney Palm) got chewed, chomped, masticated, manducated, liquefied and sprayed out in a diarrheic flood of blood. Shite’s nothing short of glorious! Other profligate death modes include a bratty teen catching a taser to the girll, some nifty axe-work to a helpless gal’s Achilles tendon, the aforementioned flamethrower burning up all kinds of flesh, a scythe-blade gut-impalement, on and on. SILENT NIGHT has not shortage of well earned screams!

The one major downturn of the film is its ludicrous conclusion. Who the killer is identified as, and the seemingly tacked-on back-story to justify it, simply doesn’t jive with the quality that comes before it. I’d honestly be happier if it turned out Malcolm McDowell was doing all the killing himself. There are a few hints and clues to this being the case along the way, alas, we’re treated to a severe letdown as it relates to who the killer is. Since the movie is still only five years old, we’ll hold off on revealing much more than that for now. Know what, gift yourself a screening of the flick this Christmas and tell us what you think of the ending.

As for the whole, I know what I think. SILENT NIGHT is far better than credited as, and in being a serviceable salute to the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, actually functions as a fun little holiday horror slasher. The pacing flies by at an ever entertaining clip, the fatalities are both ferocious and inventively frightening, the cast delivers above par performances, the tone comes off pleasantly softer, and despite the lame ender, does an admirable job of honoring the original and aptly adapting the 2008 Covina Holiday Massacre. This isn’t a lump of coal left in the stocking, SILENT NIGHT gifts more value than you might think!




Extra Tidbit: Have you seen SILENT NIGHT? What'd you think?



Latest Movie News Headlines