Director: Sophia Takal
Writers: Sophia Takal and April Wolfe
Starring: Imogen Poots, Lily Donoghue, Aleyse Shannon, Brittany O’Grady, Caleb Eberhardt, and Cary Elwes
The original 1974 Black Christmas has gone down as one of the greatest horror films of all time. It inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween, as well as being given some credit for starting the slasher genre. The 2019 remake will probably not hold the same legacy in fifty years’ time, but it’s still fun while it’s on.
Riley Stone (Imogen Poots) and her sorority sisters perform a song at a frat party, highlighting the sexual assault that happens in colleges. It causes a stir and the next night they find they are being stalked by a masked assailant, who is trying to kill them. Riley and her friends have to make a decision to either stand and fight or run.
Sophia Takal’s version of Black Christmas is more about the social commentary than actual horror. The main character was raped at a frat party and the police wouldn’t believe her, it’s what inspires the song they sing at the end of year party and why they are being hunted by the masked attacker. It wears it’s themes on its sleeve with very little subtlety, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The party scene with the song works and gets the point across.
The characters are also likable, and the film spends enough time with them before the actual horror starts so you get to know them and want them to survive. The first half of the film, where it’s just character building and setting the scene is really good, then the attack goes into full force, and it just fizzles out.
It’s not really scary. There are a couple of good jump scares, and people do die in horrific ways, but you just don’t really feel it. It does hit the way it should do, and it feels hollow. Especially when it turns to the supernatural, which feels like it comes out of nowhere and the main character just instantly believes it. It’s a complete gear-shift and doesn’t feel right. It would have been scarier if it was just the frat hunting them down in revenge, not the weird cult/possession thing that the frat has become.
The first half is great and while the second half does disappoint, it’s still entertaining. It’s a solid slasher film, but it feels like it could have been so much more.
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