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Filmgoers must have done something awfully naughty to deserve the cinematic lump of coal that is Silent Night. This very loose remake of 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night — the then-controversial slasher film that spawned four forgotten sequels — wastes the talents of such fine actors as Malcolm McDowell and Donal Logue in its retelling of a killer Santa Claus on the loose. It’s receiving a token theatrical release prior to its DVD debut next week.
Set on Christmas Eve in a small Wisconsin town in which every adult male seems to have donned a St. Nick suit, the film mainly consists of a series of grisly set pieces in which a homicidal Santa decimates the population using a wide array of weaponry including an ax, a cattle prod, a flame thrower and, most memorably, a wood chipper.
Attempting to halt the carnage are a gruff sheriff (McDowell) and his plucky female deputy (Jaime King, who has some experience with this sort of thing thanks to her roles in such previous horror remakes as My Bloody Valentine 3D and Mother’s Day). Logue plays one of the chief suspects, a town Santa with a particularly acerbic edge.
The familiar slasher movie templates are all present, including much gratuitous nudity involving several nubile female victims, one of whom (Cortney Palm) winds up in the wood chipper in a sequence that makes the one in Fargo seem tame.
Director Steven C. Miller certainly seems to have an enthusiastic for the ultra-violent gore, while screenwriter Jayson Rothwell ups the ante on the original by including the brutal slaying of a child, albeit an obnoxious one. He’s less successful in terms of making us care about the real identity of the masked, white-bearded killer, with a climactic plot twist proving less than galvanizing.
McDowell — who’s really too good an actor for this sort of tired genre fare — brings an entertaining gusto to his turn as the curmudgeonly, macho sheriff. King and Logue go through their predictable paces with admirable professionalism, and veteran stuntman Rick Skene ably fulfills the demanding physical requirements as the killer Santa.
Remakes of ‘80s-era cult-favorite horror flicks seem to be all the rage these days. But they have to be better than this formulaic effort to replace the already not-so-great originals.
Opens: Friday, Nov. 30 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Production: Genre Company, Insidious Pictures
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Lisa Marie, Ellen Wong, Richard Saperstein, Rick Skene
Director: Steven C. Miller
Screenwriter: Jayson Rothwell
Producers: Richard Saperstein, Brian Witten, Phyllis Laing, Shara Kay
Executive producers: John C. Carbone, Sean E. DeMott, James Gibb, Aaron L. Gilbert, Adam Goldworm, Thomas M. Kastelz, Edmund Mokhtarian, Edward Mokhtarian, Gary Preisler, Jayson Rothwell, Steve Ruff, Mark Sanders
Director of photography: Joseph White
Editor: Seth Flaum
Production designer: Kathy McCoy
Costume designer: Maureen Petkaw
Composer: Kevin Riepl
Rated R, 94 min.
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