One of the tag lines for the new horror/thriller “Silent Night” is a bit foretelling as to the carnage about to be unleashed on the small town of Cryer, WI.
Directed by Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale), ‘Silent Night‘ is a loosely based remake of the cult horror classic ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’, a controversial 1984 film that fell victim to mass protests due to the fact that the serial killer dressed up like Santa Claus. In a world where real-life death and destruction is shown round the clock on every news network, it’s almost laughable how a fictional horror film could have caused such a stir.
In ‘Silent Night’ veteran actor Malcolm McDowell (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) and the beautiful Jaime King (Mother’s Day) star as a small-town sheriff and deputy on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus taking out people who are doing wrong on Christmas Eve. The film also stars Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D, Blade), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow), Brendan Fehr (Final Destination), Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and Cortney Palm (Sushi Girl).
McDowell is somewhat ornery in his role as Sheriff Cooper, but appears to have the town’s best intentions at heart. And King, who was amazing in her role of Beth Sohapi in the ‘Mother’s Day’ reboot, is equally as good here as emotionally troubled Officer Aubrey Bradimore.
‘Silent Night’ contains all of the essential ingredients that were paramount in 80’s horror films: Strong characters, a sense of not knowing what’s coming next, the gratuitous nudity/sexuality and of course, the recreational drug use. (Naughty! Naughty!)
And whereas the original ‘Silent Night / Deadly Night’ fell victim to picketing for using a serial killer dressed like the guy in the big red suit, ‘Silent Night’, does its own little bit of envelope pushing by utilizing something else normally considered taboo in serial killer horror: the death of a child (albeit a bratty, potty-mouthed one).
Miller though, isn’t worried about any backlash that may result from the scene.”People may be concerned about it, but it actually sets the tone of the movie”, he says. “Once you see it, you realize that at this point all bets are off and anything can happen!”
Aside from some really cool weapons, ‘Silent Night‘ breaks no new ground in terms of what’s already been done in horror but really, who cares? The movie is a fun ride of terror and carnage with perhaps one of the best kill scenes in recent memory involving a topless woman and a wood chipper. Need I say more?
When asked to describe what makes for the perfect horror movie, Miller is quick to respond. “Atmosphere and tone. If you can get the atmosphere right for whatever time and place you’re in, the audience is automatically drawn in.”
It’s hard to argue that point because the film looks and feels like it belongs on a big theatrical screen; with a tone and quality that rivals many of the classic 80’s slasher films. The real strength of ‘Silent Night’ lies in its use of cinematography and credit should be given to both Miller and cinematographer Joseph White for taking a small budget film and making it appear larger than life.
The best horror balances the suspense with the scares and mixes in a little bit of humor to release the tension and in both cases, ‘Silent Night’ succeeds. Horror fans who’ve been longing for something other than the typical “found-footage” style format of recent films may want to consider asking Santa for ‘Silent Night’ in their stocking this holiday season. It sure beats a visit from the big guy in person carrying a flame thrower.
Or as Miller himself is quick to point out, “We need these kinds of holiday slasher movies. There aren’t enough of them.”
Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Silent Night’ Brings Horror Home for the Holidays on Technorati.