The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - Don­ald Clarke

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

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