MRR Movie Review: Silent Night

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The police force of a remote Midwestern town search for a killer Santa Claus who is picking off citizens on Christmas Eve.
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Movie Review: "Silent Night"

-- Rating: R
Length: 94 minutes
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Directed By: Steven C. Miller
Genre: Horror

"Silent Night, Deadly Night" is a cult classic that has an almost rabid fan base. When those fans heard plans of a remake, many were upset and even angry. Those fans shouldn't worry, though, because "Silent Night" is almost a name-only remake. With the exception of a maniacal Santa, the two films share little in common.

The original "Silent Night, Deadly Night" spawned four sequels and had scenes that kept fans talking. Whether it was a child impaled on a pair of reindeer antlers or Santa whipping a hammer out of his bag of toys, viewers never knew what to expect. The gory scenes in the film drew ire from some, which led to boycotts and picket lines outside of theaters showing the film. "Silent Night" tries to draw that same reaction from viewers, but it only manages to be a typical horror film.

The film tells the story of James Cooper (Malcolm McDowell, "Halloween"), the sheriff of a small town who discovers that a crazed man dressed like Santa is terrorizing his town. Aubrey (Jaime King, "My Bloody Valentine") is one of his deputies, stuck in a town that celebrates Christmas like Mardi Gras. With multiple men and women wearing Santa costumes, it's impossible to know who is the killer and who is just a red herring tossed in by the director. Cooper and Aubrey begin working together, hoping to stop the killer before Christmas arrives.

If there is no reason to watch the film, it's for McDowell's performance. The actor knows his way around a horror film, and here he plays the grizzly police officer who spent years trapped in a dead end job where nothing ever happens. He seems almost happy when he discovers a crazed killer running loose because it means that he can finally do something. This he shows when he tells another character, "this is payback time for those parking violations and stray cats up trees."

While McDowell serves as the backbone of the film, it's Donal Logue ("The Tao of Steve") who truly shines. Logue plays Jim, the one man in town who doesn't understand why so many people celebrate the holidays. He has no problem telling kids that Santa doesn't really exist, and he frequently warns them that they shouldn't listen to their parents. He delivers more laughs in one diatribe than the other characters have throughout the film. One of the best moments in the film is when Logue rants about a Tim Tebow sweater. Luckily, he appears multiple times in the film after Cooper names him their number one suspect.

While she has experience in horror films like "Mother's Day," Jaime King does little more than weigh down the film. The problem isn't King's fault, though, because the film presents her with a tired character. Aubrey is a woman who experienced a traumatic event as a child, which ruined her thoughts on the holidays. King does what she can with the role, but fans will realize that her character seems a little too similar to her role in "My Bloody Valentine." Between her doe-eyed stare and her perceived innocence, some viewers will find themselves just waiting until she leaves the screen.

"Silent Night" pushes the boundaries by including comedic elements in a horror film. Most modern films either focus primarily on the laughs or the scares, but this film does both. The humor is decidedly dark, but in its own way, the laughs help lighten the feel of the horror. Santa himself gets in on the action, using humorous methods to dispense with his victims. One of the best kills involves Santa pushing a topless woman into a wood chipper, but he also uses a stuffed moose and a flamethrower.

Many horror screenwriters and directors focus too much on the backstory of each character, but "Silent Night" focuses on the action and horror. This isn't the type of film that spends twenty minutes exploring why the sheriff is tired of his job or wasting the opening scenes on the history of the killer. Within the first five minutes of the film, viewers will know everything they need to know about Santa's killing spree.

Horror films aren't the first thing that people reach for during the holidays, but some might change their minds after viewing "Silent Night." The film does a good job of conveying the holidays than recent horror films like "Black Christmas," and it has a few lines that fans will want to quote for years. With its black humor, unusual deaths, and twisted storyline, "Silent Night" is practically a holiday classic.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars