Horror 365 Movie 12: Black Christmas (2019)

Alrighty, remake #3, and a loose remake it is. Don’t get me wrong, nuthin wrong with a loose remake. Still, I gotta admit that so far, though by and large I’m a big fan, there’s been no middle ground for me with Blumhouse. They either smash it outta the park, or they strike out. It pains me, therefore, to say that Black Christmas was not the homerun I wanted it to be.

Let me start by saying how much I like Sophia Takal. She was great in the “Second Honeymoon” segment of V/H/S, and I loved the job she did directing New Year, New You for Hulu’s Into The Dark series. I see her point with Black Christmas. It certainly calls some much needed attention to #MeToo and rape culture especially in the toxic dudebro-y fraternity atmosphere of the college campus.

Given the source material, then, there could have been some truly vicious taking down of the ΔΚΟ scumbags. Alas this was not to be.

One problem may well be the PG-13 rating. Admittedly, this is my problem. Again, I see how, from an empowerment aspect, the movie gains a wider audience at PG-13. More teenage girls can see it.

The downside is this also eliminates much of what, for me, makes vengeance or survival horror fun–gore. There really isn’t any to speak of here. It saddens me. What’s more deserving of graphic evisceration than white male patriarchy?

The movie does have its moments. One of the killers uses an oh-so-phallic bow and arrow, but none of the ΜΚΕ women actually get shot with it (one gets grazed), and fans of the 1974 original should look out for a nice reversal on the dry cleaning bag.

That said, the addition of a supernatural cult element doesn’t come off well. It’s just matter-of-factly there unlike the slow, creepy realization you get in, say, Rosemary’s Baby, Hereditary, or even Hot Fuzz. Plus, Hawthorne College has been around for two hundred years. Nobody discovered the bust of the college’s founder was a source of supernatural power until now?

All of this brings up the question of what to do with the plot. Where does it want to go? Play up the culty ritualism, or exact some well-earned, blood-soaked retribution on Carey Elwes (gasp!) and his misogynistic followers?

So, again, not the homerun I wanted, but to circle back to my loose baseball analogy, even when my team loses, I still get to watch a baseball game. In the same vein, I still get to watch some dumbass dudes get taken out by some badass women, and that’s fun even without the blood.

Ultimately I can’t quite let go of the fact that, especially given the cringey last-act monolguing, I want the bad guy and his frat boys to get taken apart. Quite literally. There’s something to be said, though, for burning down the patriarchy. Also quite literally.

Finally, in the interest of fairness and balance, check out Christal VanEtten’s review on The Superghoul.com. The title, “Black Christmas Remake Isn’t For Everyone, But Necessary As Fuck” sums up her stance perfectly, and even though my admiration of and agreement with her point are irrelevant, I still couldn’t agree more.

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