DECK THE HALLS WITH PARTS OF HOLLY
BLACK CHRISTMAS ★★ Directed by Glen Morgan Starring Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Andrea Martin 16 cert, gen release, 84 min
THE first Black Christmas, an innovative little clot of Canadian nastiness from 1974, arrived at a time when the conventions of the slasher picture were still forming themselves. Indeed, John Carpenter has admitted that Bob Clark’s film, in which a nutter chops up the inhabitants of a sorority house, was a major influence on his own Halloween. The remake, by way of contrast, is going to have to do something very special indeed to break new ground in this increasingly tired genre.
Well, Glen Morgan, writer of the excellent Final Destination, makes a reasonably good – ahem – stab at juicing up the formula. The flashbacks to the unhappy family life of his murderer feature wonderfully garish recreations of earlier decades, while the various awful things the madman does with eyeballs never fail to turn the stomach.
There is, after all these years of gutted co-eds, nothing particularly original about the plot – he’s phoning from inside the house, again – but the video-nasty bold- ness of the exercise is, in an age of drab sepia horror remakes, greatly to be welcomed.
Sadly, we do eventually end up back in the same place we always end up. Once the wickedest girls have been dispatched, their relatively chaste, comparatively sober friends find themselves rushing up and down stairs, hiding in cupboards and generally making like Jamie Lee.
Morgan has a nice line in morbid quips, but is less skilled at ordering the mayhem into anything a grown-up viewer could follow. So, in the end, this Black Christmas is more naughty than nice. It is still, however, the least terrible yuletide-themed picture currently playing in cinemas. Now, that is frightening.
Better watch out: Black Christmas