It’s Christmas Eve, and a small Midwestern town is preparing for their annual Santa parade. But while most of the populace is getting ready for the festivities, the local police department is secretly scrambling, desperately trying to find the culprit in a series of gruesome murders. Their only clue so far is a shoe print and an image of a figure in a bloody Santa suit taken at one of the crime scenes. So now it’s up to the three-person police force to try to track down the killer Claus amongst dozens of Claus’s, before the brutal murderer kills off any more of their citizenry.
Whoops…. Too late….
Silent Night is an American slasher by director Steven C. Miller from 2012. The film is a very loose reboot of the film Silent Night, Deadly Night from 1984. Although the similarities between the two films are so minuscule that they might as well be non-existent, so it may be more accurate to call it an updated re-imagining, rather than a reboot. There are a couple of nods to the original film, such as the scene where the grandfather gives an ominous warning to his grandson about encountering ‘ol Saint Nick, but for the most part the only real connection is that it involves a crazy guy running around killing people while wearing a Santa suit. And you know what, that’s fine. Because while the movie’s premise has been done a dozen times before, and will probably continue to be done in the future, the film is so well put-together that it still ends up being an enjoyable experience for genre fans. As far as slashers go, I was highly impressed, and can find very few things to complain about with this film, despite some implausibilities.
Like this scene.
If you’re a fan of blood and gore in your horror outings, then let me assure you now, that you will not be disappointed. The blood and violence flow freely in this film, and many of the deaths are inventive and varied. You’ve got everything here from impailings, to electrocutions, to suffocations, to just good, old-fashioned stabbings. There’s even a flamethrower and a wood-chipper involved, so there’s little chance of viewer boredom, and the victims all range in age from around 13-years-old, to at least 60, so the film doesn’t pull any punches and no potential victim is off the table. Basically anyone could get the ax at any time. And many of the deaths themselves are also pretty in-your-face, so much of the film feels very visceral, even when you can tell there’s a bit of CGI involved for some of the really gory or bloody bits.
Ho-Ho-Hooooly shit, Santa’s packing some serious heat!
Silent Night also happens to be one of the nicest looking slashers I think I’ve seen. Not only does the film look slick and sharp, but the lighting, atmosphere and cinematography are also highly on point. No, scratch that. Not on point, they’re above point. It’s obvious that everything from the color, to angle were all carefully planned and considered ahead of time, and the film looks all the better for it. It’s not often you find yourself watching a slasher and think “Damn”, and have it refer to both the striking brutality and the excellent scene composition. So, kudos for that, filmmakers.
The film is also helped by the great effort put into by the cast. Everyone here, from lead Jamie King, to the cynical Santa Donal Louge, and even the annoying child brat, is just stellar. They’re all just serious enough to keep the film grounded and give their characters feel like they have real emotions, but still have just that right touch of over-the-top or campiness to still keep the film entertaining. Then on the other end of the spectrum you have Malcolm McDowell as the posturing small-town sheriff, who seems to have forgotten he’s an old, white man, and has instead mistaken himself for a cliched “sassy black female cop”, as he spectacularly hams up his performance just enough to remind the viewer that they’re supposed to be having fun, and not take the film so damn seriously.
That said, there are a couple of minor plot related issues. It’s clear from the beginning that the killer is going after those he declares “not nice”, but who he deems worthy of his hatchet seems to be completely random. For instance, he kills a pair of adulterers, some pornographers, a pervy preacher, and a foul mouthed, obnoxious kid. But he completely ignores the town’s drug kingpin who only lives a couple doors down from the porn guys, and he kills a random horny teen, one who admittedly had stolen from his grandfather just hours before, but the thing is, there’s no way for the killer to have known that. And it’s not like he’s just killing witnesses, ‘cause by that point he’s already spared a little old lady who watched him kill the preacher. I suppose one could say that they could have done it to show that he was truly crazy, but by the time the film ends the movie not only gives him one, but TWO motives, proving he’s actually quite methodical. So those little inclusions (or exclusions) sort of feel like they were added (or ignored) just for the hell of it.
But small complaints aside, Silent Night ends up being a very fun slasher, especially for old-school genre fans. In a world full of remakes, this one actually manages to be fun while still paying homage to the series roots. The pacing is perfect, it sounds good, it looks great, and there’s enough violence and gore to keep the slasher fans happy, and enough throwbacks to the series beginnings to appease fans of the original. If you’re a fan of slashers, then this is something that you’ll probably want to add to your holiday rotation.
Silent Night is available on a variety of streaming services, including free on Tubi TV.
It is also available on DVD and Bluray.