×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Silent Night

For those who have always wanted to see a psycho Santa Claus apply an electric cattle prod to a bratty little girl, there is "Silent Night."

With:
With: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Lisa Marie, Courtney-Jane White, Cortney Palm, John B. Lowe, Rick Skene, Brendan Fehr.

For those who have always wanted to see a psycho Santa Claus apply an electric cattle prod to a bratty little girl, there is “Silent Night,” a kinda-sorta remake of the notorious 1984 slasher pic “Silent Night, Deadly Night.” Trouble is, apart from some modestly inventive carnage and an undeniably humorous hambone turn by Malcolm McDowell, there’s really nothing here to make genre fans dash through the snow (or maneuver through traffic) to megaplexes before the low-budget, high-concept Canadian production’s Dec. 4 homevid release.

The original thriller — which was popular enough to spawn four sequels, including one (1989’s “Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!”) directed by cult-fave auteur Monte Hellman — told the twisted tale of a troubled young man who, years after seeing a thug in a Santa Claus disguise murder his mom and dad, dons the red suit and goes on a slay ride of his own. Among the most memorable of that pic’s many murders: The very bad Santa impales a young woman on the antlers of a mounted antelope head.

Helmer Steven C. Miller references that scene in his new “Silent Night,” and also drops wink-wink allusions to other pics. Judging from the conspicuous appearance of small-town cops with earflap caps and the inclusion of a grisly scene involving a woodchopper, “Fargo” looms large on the filmmaker’s list of cinematic influences. For the most part, however, this is a singularly glum and dumb enterprise, the sort of slasher movie in which even the mad killer appears to lose interest in his murder spree during the final scenes, and at one point simply beats a victim to death.

Scripter Jayson Rothwell’s plot has something to do with a Santa-suited serial killer who cuts a bloody swath through a Wisconsin hamlet, and something else to do with an annual Christmas festival that invites dozens of Santas to mingle in town and, of course, serve as decoys to distract the gruff sheriff (McDowell, barely suppressing his glee at picking up an easy paycheck) and plucky deputy (Jaime King) searching for the psycho.

But this slight scenario serves merely as an excuse to string together various and sundry violent demises. Pornographers, unfaithful spouses, sexually active teens and a lascivious minster are among the naughty folks checked off the psycho Santa’s hit list. Weapons of choice include knives, axes, a flamethrower, Christmas tree lights amped with high-voltage currents and, yes, the aforementioned cattle prod.

Donal Logue has a hilarious rant as a misanthropic Santa who explains why Christmas isn’t terribly merry for many people. And co-star Cortney Palm merits some kind of good-sport prize for her grace under pressure during the longest stretch of gratuitous nudity in any slasher pic since Betsy Rue’s legendary flash-and-dash in “My Bloody Valentine” (2009), yet another remake of a “classic” ’80s horror show.

Popular on Variety

Silent Night

Canada

Production: An Anchor Bay Films release and presentation of a Genre Co./Insidious Pictures production in association with Empire Film & Entertainment Group, Media House Capital and Manitoba Film & Music. Produced by Richard Saperstein, Brian Witten, Phyllis Lang, Shara Kay. Executive producers, Steve Ruff, Thomas M. Kastelz, Aaron L. Gilbert, John Carbone, John G. Carbone, Mark Sanders, James Gibb, Jayson Rothwell, Edward Mokhtarian, Edmund Mokhtarian, Sean E. DeMott, Adam Goldworm, Vincent Guastini, Kevin Kasha. Co-producers, Gary Preisler, D.J. Gugenheim, Armen Aghaeian, Geno Tazioli, Micah Gallo. Co-executive producers, Margot Hand, Patrick Murray. Directed by Steven C. Miller. Screenplay, Jayson Rothwell.

Crew: Camera (color), Joseph White; editor, Seth Flaum; music, Kevin Riepl; music supervisors, Andy Ross, Laura Katz; production designer, Kathy McCoy; costume designer, Maureen Petkau; sound (Dolby Digital), Leon Johnson; assistant director, Trevor Cunningham; casting, Eyde Belasco, Jim Heber. Reviewed at AMC Gulf Pointe 30, Houston, Dec. 1, 2012. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Lisa Marie, Courtney-Jane White, Cortney Palm, John B. Lowe, Rick Skene, Brendan Fehr.

More Film

  • Slovak Artist Juraj Horvath Gives Ji.hlava

    Slovak Artist Juraj Horvath Gives Ji.hlava Film Festival Its Distinctive Look

    The distinctive look and feel of the Czech Republic’s Ji.hlava film festival – fringy, arty, a bit punk via eco-warrior – is down in many ways to one man: Juraj Horvath. The Slovak artist, provocateur and illustrator of children’s books has created what he calls the “visual identity” of the docu fest for 20 years [...]

  • Edgar Ramirez to Star in ‘The

    Edgar Ramirez to Star in ‘The War Has Ended’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Edgar Ramirez, best known for “Carlos” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” will star in the drama “The War Has Ended,” from writer and director Hagar Ben-Asher’s award-winning original script about a man in search of his children. Mister Smith Entertainment will launch international sales at next month’s American Film Market. The film is being [...]

  • Spanish Antitrust Regulator to Probe U.S.

    Spanish Regulator to Probe U.S. Studios Over Possible Anti-Competitive Practices

    Spanish antitrust regulator, the National Commission of Markets and Competition, has launched an 18-month probe into possible anti-competitive practices by the local distribution branches of Hollywood studios Disney, Sony, Warner Bros., Fox, Universal and Paramount, as well as local companies providing digital services and exhibitors. The antitrust body said it was investigating 14 companies “for [...]

  • American Society of Cinematographers Honoring Frederick

    American Society of Cinematographers to Honor Frederick Elmes

    The American Society of Cinematographers will honor Frederic Elmes with a lifetime achievement award. The ASC is also honoring Donald A. Morgan with the career achievement in television award, Bruno Delbonnel with the international award; and Don McCuaig with the presidents awards. The accolades will be presented at the annual ASC awards gala on Jan. [...]

  • 'American Factory,' 'Apollo 11' Nominated for

    'American Factory,' 'Apollo 11' Score International Documentary Award Nominations

    “American Factory,” “Apollo 11,” “For Sama” and “The Edge of Democracy” have scored multiple nominations for the International Documentary Awards. “Advocate,” “Honeyland,” “Midnight Family,” “One Child Nation,” “Sea of Shadows,” and “The Biggest Little Farm” also received nods. The 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards will be held on Dec. 7 at Paramount Studios in Los [...]

  • Joker Movie 2019

    Box Office: How 'Joker' Became Insanely Profitable

    Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” has become a certified box office sensation, earning $744 million in worldwide ticket sales after less than a month in theaters. Making that haul all the sweeter, Warner Bros., the studio behind the R-rated origin story about Batman’s nemesis, spent $62.5 million to finance the film, a fraction of what most comic-book [...]

  • Mackenzie Davis Terminator Dark Fate

    ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ads placed for the sci-fi action film had an estimated media value of $6.81 million through Sunday for 796 national ad airings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content