What a difference a year makes. Less than 12 months ago, Morgan and Wong were riding high on the rollercoaster of success with box-office phenomenon FD3. They end 2006 with this damp squib.
A remake (naturally) of the classic 1974 horror movie, Black Christmas sees a group of sorority sisters terrorized over the holidays by a maniac. The horror community had very high hopes for this movie, thanks to a wonderful cast and crew and everything seemed to be going well until production wrapped. That was the last time any good news was heard regarding this movie. There were rumours of at least four bouts of re-shoots, stuff created purely for the trailer, spoilers aplenty, bad test screening reviews, huge arguments between Morgan and Wong and, very sadly, the whole thing was marred by the sudden passing of Shirley Walker a few weeks back. Even now, with the film on release in the UK, rumours persist about different versions and fans bemoan the lack of advertising.
Amongst the bickering and rumours, the film quietly flopped this past weekend (charting at number 8 with under £400,000) thanks to poor scheduling (late night showings only) and fan debate about present murders in the UK having an effect, as well as negativity from Christian rights groups, amongst other things. The fact of the matter is the end result isnít worth all the bother.
The film opens with a quick death and then gets on with the story. You can tell (just) that Morgan and Wong had made good stabs (pardon the pun) at characterization here, as each of the girls has a hint of a distinct personality. The filmmakers and actors work has been ruined overall however by the editing. We meet the girls and their housemother and soon learn the history of Billy Lenz (via flashback). What could have been quite chilling scenes are actually campy and over the top to the point of ridiculous. Mrs. Lenz could have been a very scary lady but she ended up being a gin soaked caricature. These flashbacks are intercut with the rest of the present story, and once they are over we basically have an hour of people being killed in quick succession.
The tone is all over the place, there are no jumps, scares or chillsÖitís all just blood, guts and gore mixed in with sex. If itís disgusting, itís in there, and even attempts to hold back by showing kills off screen are redundant as they are then rendered ineffective in comparison to all the on-screen kills.
I have no doubt that this was originally a good film, yet much in the same way Cursed went to the dogs (along with Darkness, Mindhunters, Feast and Pulse), Black Christmas (in its present form) wastes the talents of its cast and crew and ends up being just an okay filmÖnothing spectacular. What I did like was the fact that in itself it is very different from the original. So different that you cannot compare the two. In fact, this probably should have been a very belated sequel. Just pretend that it is and youíll probably have more fun.
Overall then, Bleak Christmas (as I now like to call it) is an okay way to kill some time. Itís kind of fun and itís over quick as a flash, so itís not too painful to sit through. Thereís a good movie in there somewhere and itís definitely better than the remakes of The Fog, The Omen and The Wicker Man but itís not the movie I had hoped for this Christmas.