Black Christmas (2006)
Directed by: Glen Morgan
Premise: A remake of the 1974 film. A killer (Robert Mann) imprisoned for murdering his family escapes a mental institution on Christmas Eve and returns to his home, now a sorority house, and begins picking off the college girls one by one.
What Works: The film does some interesting things in its structure. The narrative jumps back and forth between the history of the killer and the events of the contemporary Christmas Eve. The back-story of the film is easily the most successful element and the picture creates an audacious and interesting caricature of the killer’s family that would have been a more successful film in its own right.
What Doesn’t: The original Black Christmas was not particularly good and aside from the back-story this film does not improve on its predecessor. The editing cuts are sloppy and the special effects are poorly done. There are few genuine scares in the picture, as nearly all of the potential jump moments are spoiled by poor staging and plagued by slasher film clichés. The film tries to get a Friday the 13thstyle murder mystery going but the film does not allow any of its leads to play out. Instead, characters mysteriously enter the film and then leave, only to pop up in the revelation scene in the third act. The ending is very poor as villains literally begin coming out of the woodwork but it is not clear who they are, how they got there, or why they are after these girls. The heroines of the story are largely flat with little positive or negative characteristics. Although they are not as ridiculous as the cardboard pinups of films like Sorority House Massacre 2, they do make stupid decisions (like discovering a dead body and then running back inside the house) that defy logic or credibility.
Bottom Line: Black Christmas is a poor remake of a film that was never that good in the first place. While this presents an opportunity to improve the material, I suspect that the makers of this film actually liked the original picture and were never compelled to apply any real creativity to the remake.
Episode: #125 (January 7, 2007)
Addendum: I first saw the original Black Christmas (1974) on a very low quality VHS source. The presentation was so unpleasant that I formed a negative opinion of the film. Years later (and well after I wrote this review) I saw the original Black Christmas again when a remastered version was released on blu-ray disc. The new edition was a revelation that drastically improved my opinion of the movie. My regard for the 2006 version remains unchanged. (December 22, 2019)