Black Christmas, a remake of a remake to an original classic from the director of A Christmas Story. The original 1974 classic is regarded as one of the most horrific holiday films. Director Bob Clark and writer A. Roy Moore crafted a tense, stylish, slow-burning film that sticks with you after the credits roll. Sadly, today Black Christmas is a movie that struggles to balance an important social message with a well thought out story.
Directed and written by Sophia Takal, Black Christmas follows a group of sorority girls at Hawthorne college as they are picked off by a hooded assailant. The film shares little resemblance to the original, bashes viewers over the head with a feminist message, and offers one of the most illogical explanations in film history. Honestly, other than sorority girls and sharing the same title as the original, this remake is nothing like its source material. The feminist progression isn’t that far fetched for this property, but it’s the execution that has ruined everything.
Black Christmas stars Imogen Poots, Lily Donoghue, Aleyse Shannon, Brittany O’Grady, Caleb Eberhart, and Cary Elwes. The performances aren’t that bad and the cast does what they can with the weak material. Poots leads the film as Riley Stone, a student that struggles to move on from being raped by a classmate. Her character isn’t fleshed out much beyond that and it’s quite disappointing because the character was very sympathetic and easy to root for. Poots’ performance is one of the very few redeeming qualities in this atrocious remake. It’s just another film with talent being wasted on a lackluster script that makes zero sense in the end.
In regards to the writing, this is one of the most senseless scripts to ever be written. Fans of the original will know that the film revolved around Billy, a seemingly escaped mental patient returning to his childhood home and killing a group of sorority girls. He taunted the ladies on the phone with obscene calls and voice manipulations. This new version deviates from that and nixes Billy completely. What we have here is a cult of sorority imbeciles that intend to keep the ladies on campus in their “rightful positions”. Takal’s script speaks to the ways women are treated in society and that’s fine, but that message is spoon-fed every other line or scene.
The dialogue is mostly made up of jabs at men and male dominance in the world, and it’s done to the point where the final reveal is going to irritate several people. Shannon stars as Kris, a friend of Riley who is the SJW on campus and her character is the most annoying aspect of this film. Her character believes all men are trash and if you don’t agree with her then there will be an issue. For example, during the film, a decent male character expresses that not all men are rapists and Kris isn’t having any of it. A closed-minded character like Kris isn’t going to get over well with open-minded viewers.
Adding to that, all of the characters are very one dimensional and they aren’t fleshed out at all over the course of the film. Black Christmas spends so much time seeking to eradicate male superiority that it forgets to create a coherent story with well-written characters. Riley is the girl that got raped, Kris is the crazy SJW, and their peers are just there to die or worship the male hierarchy. Other than that, the script offers very little to make viewers want to root for them. Then comes the final twist, a revelation so idiotic and nonsensical that it shines the light on just how little care went into making the narrative cohesive.
Moving on from that, Takal’s camera work isn’t that good either and it’s combined with horrendous cinematography from Mark Schwartzbard. It feels uninspired, and yes the budget was low, but Jeepers Creepers 3 looked better than this film. Takal’s direction makes the film suspenseless and dull, but the jumpscares are in great supply for whatever reason. Black Christmas’ message isn’t really that fitting for the horror genre either, women thrive in this genre and those women are recognized as final girls. There are several ways to tell a story about women empowerment without beating it into your audience every other scene.
Black Christmas isn’t a movie that’s so bad it’s good, this film is just awful from start to finish. It has a message that it wants to get across, but sacrifices everything else in the process. It’s just another film that wants to get share an agenda without a compelling and cohesive story. Women’s empowerment can be done much better than just rambling about how awful men are, but this movie clearly doesn’t understand that.