I had a sneaking suspicion that as soon as the latest iteration of Black Christmas hit theaters and got completely trashed by virtually everyone, I would probably love it. And so I can now say that I don’t even slightly regret blind buying it on Blu-ray to add to my complete Black Christmas collection (my blog about the previous films here).
It’s astounding that at just about the same time Joe Bob Briggs was being destroyed on social media for making a comment most felt was offensively false—that horror was fun in the old days because it wasn’t political—people reamed this film for being in-your-face political instead of just a remake of the original, non-political movie!
You know who I think was probably most repulsed by this movie and its blatant message? White, straight, male horror fans. Which just demonstrates the film’s entire uncomfortable point; toxic white male privilege and power can’t handle being negatively stereotyped and feeling marginalized by all the groups that have actually been its victims since the beginning of time. The mere fact that anything involving the equality and worth of anyone who isn’t a white straight man is attacked as being “political” makes it quite clear that treating others as equals is seen as giving them power—political power. In other words, white straight men assume treating others equally will give them the power to control how white straight men should live their lives. And the fact that I usually loathe “politics” in my horror and I thought the plot points here were awesome makes it clear to me that people wanting to be shown respect by the oppressive party in power is absolutely not a political issue but an issue of humanity. Hey, maybe the film would have been better received if it had been called WHITE Christmas…
The director of New Year, New You, the January 2018 installment of Hulu’s Into the Dark and one of the better films in the series IMO, brings us a totally different Black Christmas experience while making sure to give us nods to the original film’s iconic moments. Interior shots of the empty sorority house at Christmastime alone capture the atmosphere of the original, but the plot is refreshingly, entirely different.
Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Fright Night remake, Green Room) is great as a girl suffering from PTSD after having been sexually assaulted on campus and not believed. The movie does an incredibly timely, unsettling job of portraying just what women still go through to this day in a society fully controlled by white men. And while some may consider the whole thing preachy, I personally thought it was interwoven naturally into the fabric of the plot and what the characters are currently going through in their lives—what, in essence, women go through every single day of their lives to some degree.
On top of that, the film at first delivers what I found to be an excellent, taut, sleek thrill ride reminiscent of late-90s/early 2000s slashers. Yet it’s when the film veers off to become much more about the hierarchy of college campus constructs that it takes on a new life and becomes pretty damn insane for a totally fun and wacky final act.
There’s an appearance by Cary Elwes, a scene that so wants to be an homage to the one good scene from ridiculously overrated Exorcist III but simply rushes the pacing too much to be even vaguely as effective, and a scene with the girls doing a Christmas song performance that may be a nod to Mean Girls.
I personally love that this was in no way a rehash of the previous films, although I can’t deny it felt weird not having Andrea Martin pop up for even a minuscule cameo. I’m also shocked that an ideal opportunity to cast a female turncoat as a blue-eyed blonde who looks like she’d vote for Trump was completely missed.
My only huge disappointment is that there was an R rated cut running 20 minutes longer that was edited down to make the film PG-13, but they didn’t include it on the Blu-ray! WTF? Why wouldn’t they try to breathe extra life into such a maligned film by giving us more of the gore? Some of that gore can be seen in the deleted and extended bonus features, but they make up not even five more minutes of footage, so there’s a whole lot still lost on the cutting room floor. Bummer.