Sunday, December 8, 2019

Off Script: Black Christmas (2006)

Films: Black Christmas (2006)
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on basement television.

There’s allegedly a second remake of Black Christmas opening this coming Friday, so I decided it was finally time to get through the first remake from 2006. This is not a movie I’ve wanted to watch, to be honest. A big part of that is that Bob Clark’s 1974 original is considered a must-see classic. Clark’s film is formative for the slasher genre, and as much as Halloween seems to set the standard, Black Christmas came first and also was earlier in featuring a holiday-themed killer.

There were a couple of aspects of Clark’s film that made it noteworthy. The first is that much of it comes from the killer’s perspective. Our killer babbles and gibbers, and frequently when he does, we are see what is happening from his perspective. Sure, that’s been done before (Peeping Tom was entirely that, after all), but perhaps never this disturbingly. Second is that we never really see the killer. What happens is just something terrible that happens. There’s no explanation, no resolution—it’s just a killer on a spree with an essentially captive group of victims.

And so, it’s a real question to ask what more needs to be said about this story. The important aspects of the film are nothing but retread if they are repeated here, and if they aren’t repeated here, the remake has gone badly off script. In either case, I was pretty sure that there wasn’t a great deal that needed to be seen here.

Bluntly, I was right. I could go through a play-by-play recounting of the various stabbings, decapitations, and eye gougings that populate the film. If I did that, though, I’d be giving a certain amount of credibility and credence to this film, and I don’t want to do that. This version of Black Christmas creates a completely unnecessary backstory to try to provide some level of coherence to the randomness of the original. The mad ramblings about Billy and Agnes are given a context they don’t need, and a substantial amount of the movie is spent providing that backstory and giving us insight into the rampage. It’s a waste of the film’s time, since even though the backstory is made as horrible as possible, it’s less horrifying than the unexplained insanity from the original.

There’s no way to put this other than just to say it outright: this remake of Black Christmas is completely disappointing in every respect. The best parts of the original film have been removed or changed and replaced with a lot gratuitous gore and exposition that weakens the strengths of the film. The characters are completely interchangeable and while we are absolutely going to end up with a final girl or two, it literally makes not a whit of difference which of the characters alive at the start of the film are going to make it to the final frames.

I expected to be disappointed in this and I was. Black Christmas commits the worst sins a movie can. It’s unnecessary, boring, pointless, and trades the real horror of the original story for gore, violence, and thrills that don’t even rise to the level of cheap.

I’m not interested in the new remake, but it almost has to be better than this one.

Why to watch Black Christmas (2006): There are moments of decent gore.
Why not to watch: It’s entirely unnecessary.


  1. I saw some of this film when it was on TV as I ended up going "eh..." towards it as I still haven't seen the original film.

    1. The original is kind of fascinating for a few reasons. Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey (and Keir Dullea and John Saxon) are part of that. The attributes I mentioned above are a part of it, too.

      For me, the most fascinating aspect is that Bob Clark, in addition to making some of the absolute worst movies in history, made two seminal Christmas movies--the original Black Christmas and A Christmas Story.