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'Silent Night' DVD Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating

By

'Silent Night' DVD
© Anchor Bay

The Bottom Line

Marvelous gore can't overcome a terrible script.
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Pros

  • Good production value
  • Good cast
  • Well-done, plentiful gore

Cons

  • Cliché-ridden
  • Unlikable characters
  • Shallow, poorly delineated plot

Description

  • Starring Jaime King, Malcolm McDowell, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Brendan Fehr, Lisa Marie, Courtney-Jane White, Mike O'Brien, Aaron Hughes, Erik J. Berg, John B. Lowe
  • Directed by Steven C. Miller
  • Rated R
  • DVD Release Date: December 4, 2012

Guide Review - 'Silent Night' DVD Review

On Christmas Eve in the small town of Cryer, Wisconsin, Deputy Aubrey Bradimore is struggling with her confidence as a police officer after some vaguely delineated trauma in which she may or may not have caused her husband's death. Her mettle is soon put to the test when a stranger comes to town with a chip on his shoulder and an axe in his hand. Dressed as one of the hundreds of Santas who come to Cryer for the annual Santa parade and costume contest, the psychopath wastes little time killing the naughty -- from seedy adult filmmakers to immoral politicians to lascivious clergymen to spoiled kids -- and it's up to Aubrey and her fellow officers to figure out which of the jolly old elves is the culprit and why he's painting the town red.

Silent Night is a loose remake of the controversial 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night whose only real similarity (besides a couple of scenes recreated from the original film, one particularly forced and out of place) is the premise of a guy dressed as Santa who kills those he deems naughty. Whereas the first movie traced the killer's backstory from the start of the film, the remake is more of a whodunit that conceals the killer's identity and motivation until the very end. This approach removes the sympathetic angle of the original that painted the psycho as something of a tragic antihero, coloring his delivery of "just desserts" to his sinful victims with a sense of demented fun. In Silent Night, however, both killer and victims are repulsive -- as is, frankly, everyone in this mean-spirited town --making for a bleak, sullen viewing experience.

The citizens of Cryer are so cartoonishly vile, you have to think there was some sort of parody intended, but the script is so lazily written and devoid of anything approaching genuine humor, it's hard to tell what the tone is supposed to be. The plot is just one tired cliché after another (the burned out cop who has to regain her confidence, the mayor/police chief who doesn't want to disturb a tourist event by alerting people of a potential threat, the hero who has an unfounded "feeling" that the presumed culprit isn't the one, the killer who dispatches everyone with ease all movie long but at the climax inexplicably treats the hero with kid gloves), and the backstory of both villain and heroine feel like afterthoughts. It's full of broad characters spouting dumb, stilted dialogue, and there's never a good explanation as to how the killer "knows" who's good and who's bad.

Thankfully, there are a few saving graces that make Silent Night bearable. First, the cast is strong -- led by resident horror remake queen Jaime King (Mother's Day, My Bloody Valentine) -- although talent like Malcolm McDowell and Donal Logue feel misused by hampering them with such grating characters. Second, the gore is plentiful and done with a refreshing non-CGI nod to the splattery makeup effects of '80s slashers. Director Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion , Scream of the Banshee) takes advantage of this by delivering an attractively shot final product that appears to have a much higher production value than the average direct-to-video fare. Still, Silent Night ends up being yet another horror remake that fails to live up to the original.

The DVD

Special features include a featurette and deleted scenes.

Movie: C-
DVD: C-

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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