Directed by: Sophia Takal
Written by: Sophia Takal & April Wolfe
Starring: Imogen Poots, Brittany O’Grady, Lily Donoghue, Aleyse Shannon, Cary Elwes & Caleb Eberhardt
Rating: PG-13 (for violence, terror, thematic content involving sexual assault, language, sexual material and drinking)
Genre: Horror, Slasher, Mystery & Suspense
Release date: Dec. 13, 2019 (Wide)
Runtime: 86 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
Giving a gift during the Christmas season is often more rewarding than receiving one. That might not be the case this year, sadly enough, for horror fans who give up their hard-earned cash to receive admission to the toothless #MeToo era update of the 1974 cult slashic (“slasher classic”) Black Christmas.
Traditionally, Black Christmas has followed a simple formula, one which itself unknowingly helped pioneer back in 1974, four years even before John Carpenter’s masterful Halloween: a serial killer stalks and terrorizes a group of female students during a holiday. The 2006 Black Christmas remake obeyed the same blueprint but dialed up the blood and guts to appeal to the “torture porn” trend of its time. 13 Christmases later, Blumhouse (the studio behind Get Out and The Purge) is serving up a more modern take, one with things to say about female empowerment in the #MeToo era.
While the idea of a lady-Avengers twist on this material sounds almost as appetizing as a hot batch of gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven, the final product is a frustrating and frequently embarrassing disappointment. With lines of dialogue like “You messed with the wrong sisters” and an official synopsis which reads “this generation’s women aren’t willing to become hapless victims,” this Black Christmas seems more interested in satisfying a feminist curriculum for freshman than entertaining a crowd of thrill-seeking moviegoers.
Director Sophia Takal and co-writer April Wolfe also introduce a nonsensical supernatural twist involving a black magic hazing ritual, which seems highly unnecessary given how steeped their script already is within the mundane evils of frat boy rape-culture and an egotistical patriarchy.
The thematic pandering and needless narrative stuffing is made all the more insufferable in the face of bland protagonists. I’d be different if we were following a compelling cast of characters through everything, but the reality is that none of these ladies– or gentlemen, for that matter– have a sincere bone in their bodies. Consequentially, their supposed sisterly bonds don’t resonate like they’re supposed to.
Then there is the issue of the film’s rating. Unlike the previous two versions, this Black Christmas is rated PG-13. Now James Wan proved with Insidious that it’s possible to deliver a white-knuckle ride with PG-13 restrictions. Unfortunately, it’s evident here the filmmakers were cutting around the more graphic content, which repeatedly caught me off guard and threw me out of the movie.
Those are my thoughts on Black Christmas 2019. Have you had a chance yet to check out this film? Do you even plan on doing such a thing? Slide down into the comments below and let me know why or why not! I want to hear from you!