Review- Black Christmas
Black Christmas is a softcore reboot of the 1974 slasher movie of the same name, and while this revisit touches on some vitally important topics such as rape culture in universities and ignoring victims of sexual assault, it is unlikely the message will reach many due to the lacklustre performance of the film overall.
To begin with, as a slasher movie the film follows all the typical tropes within the genre that we as an audience have become accustomed to. For example, each female target is sent anonymous direct messages to create tension and suspense, almost immediately after which we get camera angles from different points that are supposed to make audience members question where the killer is watching from. While this approach isn’t inherently wrong and brings to mind memories of Scream and Cry Wolf, the filmmakers don’t try to do anything new, leaving sequences easily predictable and boring. The film also does nothing to try and misguide viewers and keep them guessing as to which way the film will play out. Instead, it plays out exactly as you would expect. For example, Riley’s lecturer who comes across as incredibly shifty should in all rights have been a misdirection, but no he is in fact, of course, one of the head leaders of the cult. Go figure.
On the flip side to this, the filmmakers do take the slasher genre and change its dynamics around women, and by the end of the film allow for the victims to revolt against their aggressors and have their moment of triumph over them.
Unfortunately, I felt that the paranormal elements of the piece didn’t land well, with the overall idea of an occult ritual allowing the spirit of Calvin Hawthorne to release the boy’s “alpha male” side, comes across as amateur and purely there to service the deeper themes of the film, rather than creating something redefined and original, that makes audiences think.
Speaking of the deeper layers of the film it felt as though the moments that should have taken some thinking to understand were served up to audiences without much care, for example in an early scene it is mentioned in Riley’s lecture that “men think with their brains and woman think with intuition”. Following this are scenes where she is acting purely on intuition and the opposing character at the time (campus security) refusing to be of any real service based on the evidence Riley provides him. Clearly showing the theory within the lecture at play.
Our main character of the film, Riley (Imogen Poots) does an admirable job of presenting us with a character that is relatable and believable. The scenes where she struggles with the aftermath of being raped and not being believed by male figures are truly the main standouts within the film. Some of her moments of “bad-assary” unfortunately miss completely, with lines of cheesy dialogue that slashes away any sense of tension. The film does succeed in creating a friendship with the group of girls, that is convincing and realistic, which was something I was afraid might be a downfall of the film, but instead gives us exchanges that are believable and well crafted.
Technically the film is well shot with the Christmas setting adding to the atmosphere of some scenes, with green and red lighting illuminating characters, which creates beautiful and satisfying imagery within the film. Moments of high action are somewhat discombobulating because of the rapid cut editing, and while this is used to increase the heart rates of audience members when done correctly, it is done here to keep a quick pace which leaves the audience question what's just taken place. This is most likely due to the drop in the film's rating, meaning any intended gore for the flick has to be danced around and hidden to fit its new PG-13 rating in the states.
As mentioned at the beginning of this review Black Christmas approaches subject matters that are relevant and need to be discussed, director Sophia Takal could have created a movie upon the same level as Get Out, with a serious topic matter is interwoven within a horror setting. Sadly, it seems that Black Christmas is going to be one that slips under the radar because of its lack of originality within the genre it finds itself. As a final note, I would urge any slasher fan to try this one for themselves but there is one thing I cannot forgive this film for and that is that it is just too boring.