Silent Night – Review
The police force of a remote Midwestern town search for a killer Santa Claus who is picking off citizens on Christmas Eve.
It’s the 14th of December and time for another entry into our Awful Advent Feature. There are a hell of a lot of Christmas slashers. At one point it was definitely the genre du jour when it comes to Festive Frights. With that being said, you can probably guess the type of movie we are looking at today. Yep, it’s Christmas slasher Silent Night from 2012.
Directed by Steven C. Miller, this is something of a remake of the 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night. Despite this, Silent Night is also based on a true story. We’ll get into that a bit more later. Offering some fun, inventive kills and a bunch of tongue in cheek humour. This is almost exactly what you might expect from a movie like this. Let’s take a look.
We’ve been on a bit of an end of the year run of themed features. We had K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween in October. We had a Fall Themed Horror movie month for November, Now It’s December and that can mean only one thing. It’s Awful Advent. We are reviewing a new horror for each of the days leading up to Christmas. That’s not all, we will also review a bonus movie for Christmas day itself. 25 horror movies to make your December just that little more frighteningly festive… Or should that be festively frightening? I am not sure, whatever.. It’s going to be scary.
The catch? All of the movies must be set around or feature Christmas. Movies based on a specific Christmas theme are even better. Christmas and horror have always gone hand in hand. There are tons of movies to look at and I expect you can probably predict a few right now. With that being said. Check back every day of December for something new.
Silent Night – Synopsis
A maniacal man wearing a Santa suit is killing people in the small town of Cryer, Wisconsin. Apparently deciding who is naughty and who is nice. Santa is giving people more than just a lump of coal in their stockings this year. Firstly, a deputy sheriff is kidnapped and murdered. A short time later, a man, called Jordan, who was sleeping with a married woman is electrocuted.
Overloaded with the extra work. Sheriff Cooper, played by Malcolm McDowell. Calls in deputy Aubrey Bradimore on her day off. Apparently deputy Bradimore, played by Jamie King, has recently lost her husband. Considering herself to be an inadequate police officer. She initially refuses to come in. Sheriff Cooper tells her that she doesn’t have a choice. Aubrey makes her way into work and almost immediately visits the murder scene of Jordan.
Realising that they need to solve the case quickly. The team start looking for leads. In the meantime, more people are being judged to be naughty. Vicious murders are occurring. Including that of a nude model and the people photographing her. If the police want to catch the killer. They are going to have to hunt down every Santa in town.
Based on a True Story
So, as mentioned above, this is a remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night from 84. Silent Night is also based on a true story. The loose horror remake is almost a tradition for Christmas horror movies. We have covered two of the Black Christmas remakes already for our Awful Advent feature. It seems a lot of film makers simply create a movie in the same genre. Give it a loose Christmas theme and a few nods then slap a classic horror title on it. As I mentioned above, “loose” is the key word here. Still, not many of them are both remakes and based on true stories. That is a truly unique Christmas cracker.
Apparently Silent Night’s inspired by the real life Covina Massacre. A man entered a Christmas party taking place on the 24th of December in LA. Wearing a Santa costume, he killed 9 people via gunshots and arson. A week prior, Bruce Pardo had his divorce finalised. Investigators believe he committed the massacre as something of an act of revenge. Whether this is true or not we will never know as he offed himself at his brother’s house the next day.
There are moral issues regarding horror movies based on real life events. I am not sure that you can ever justify making entertainment out of people’s suffering. It’s easy to forget that real people are affected by the crimes that influence these types of films. Somebody’s mother, brother, sister, father, son or daughter didn’t come home. All because of one selfish person. I am not sure making money out of that is something that is ever okay. In this case, however, I believe the influence is minimal. I think the makers just wanted to have that “Based on a true story” tag at the beginning of the film. People love that type of stuff, after all. The biggest influence here is the 84 original.
Christmas Slasher Fun
At its heart, Silent Night is very much your standard slasher. Everything you have come to expect from the genre is present and accounted for here. We have brutal, and often quite inventive, kills. There is buckets of gore and tons of violence. We have tongue in cheek humour. A topless woman running from a crazed killer. An action packed ending. This is absolutely Slasher 101. With that in mind, it is easy to set your expectations to a reasonable level.
Slashers tend to sink or swim based on their kills. Sure, it helps if you have a decent cast and an interesting villain. A bunch of laughs can really help. I am sure plenty of people would point to nudity as a must, as well. At the end of the day, however, the most important thing is the kill count and how interesting said kills are.
With regard to Silent Night, the kill count is fairly modest. It ramps up toward the end but there is a fair bit of exposition between murders. The kills themselves are a mix of traditional and more creative novelty kills. Naturally, I don’t want to spoil anything but I am sure the words Fargo, Wood and Chipper will give you an idea. There’s some brutal stuff here and it is all delivered with a suitable amount of fan fare and blood.
So our killer here wears a Santa outfit and judges whether people have been naughty or nice. As you can probably imagine, finding a killer in a Santa outfit around Christmas is a tough task. There are mall Santas everywhere. People collecting money dressed as the big guy. As well as others heading to fancy dress parties. This fact is weaved in pretty nicely to Silent Night’s plot. The cops are forced to consider anyone who fits the bill as a potential suspect.
Deputy Bradimore has to interview ill tempered guys just trying to make a buck. Question people dressed as Santa heading for a post work drink. And just generally annoy people. This leads to a few nice bits of comedy as well as a fair bit of tension. Most of the people aren’t very accommodating and the no nonsense cop refuses to take no for an answer. It’s also something of a coincidence that her former cop dad also took down a bad Santa years before. Maybe Aubrey wants to prove that he isn’t the only Santa vanquishing Bradimore. It’s nice to have an established back story even if it is a little silly.
A Decent Production
Silent Night is a pretty nicely done production. It’s hard not to assume that Christmas themed slashers are going to feel a little cheap. I mean, look at Jack Frost as a perfect example. Even some of the bigger budget ones aren’t particularly great. Black Christmas 2019 I am looking at you.
Steven Miller’s direction is pretty tight and the film feels fairly cohesive. Events don’t jump around from one place to another too much. It follows a familiar pattern of focusing, part of the time, on the police and their investigation. Part of the time on the people who are doing wrong. And part of the time on the kills. We don’t learn much about our killer but we don’t really need to.
Joseph White’s cinematography is decent. The film looks nice with the exception of a few moments of erratic, twitchy filming. This is a much nicer looking slasher than many. It doesn’t feel like a particularly low budget shoot. Set designs are generally good. Special attention to detail has been paid to objects that can be used to enhance kills. Nothing feels too out of place despite how some of the things are utilised as weapons. The soundtrack is very fitting for this type of movie. It likely won’t stay with you but, with that being said, not too much from this movie will.
Lighting is fantastic, in parts. The end scenes feature a blend of red and green lights bleeding into smoke. It looks excellent and ties nicely in with the festive theme. Given that there is a lack of snow in this movie, that’s a good thing. It’s not the most Christmassy of the Christmas horror movies I have covered. Still, the ending segment is very enjoyable for it’s aesthetics.
Great Acting and a Fun Script
Jayson Rothwell had a whale of a time here with the screenplay. Some wise cracking Santas with attitudes make for some of the movie’s funniest scenes. Rothwell has written some absolute zingers for McDowell’s Sheriff Cooper, as well. He’s a cantankerous old coot and hilarious with it. A scene between two young lovers is comical for its awkwardness. A speech by a slimy priest also does a nice job of setting up a fantastic, old fashioned slasher kill.
Acting is absolutely fine for this type of film. Jamie King, as Deputy Bradimore, is decent playing the hard nosed, never say die cop. She gets to flex her emotional acting chops later on. Her previous experience with slashers comes in handy. Malcolm McDowell chews the scenery here in the best possible way. He appears to be having a lot of fun as Bradimore’s demanding boss. Some of his lines are hilarious. McDowell’s attempt to put on an American accent is funnier than it should be. I am a big fan of McDowell and I love his commitment to lower budget films. Particularly during this time period. All in all, acting is okay.
A Pretty Good Christmas Slasher
I feel I should qualify a lot of what I have said in this review by pointing out that this is a very basic slasher. I really can’t give it a ridiculously high mark because, as slashers go, it doesn’t do anything new. It is about as bog standard a slasher as you can possibly get. The story is fairly uninteresting. The kills, while creative, aren’t particularly noteworthy. On top of that, our antagonist is simply a little bit boring. He certainly doesn’t stand out among the legions of slasher icons in horror history.
Deputy Bradimore is fine but there isn’t a ton of reasons to invest in her story. She doesn’t have an enormous number of reasons to root for her outside of the fact that she is a decent person. Side characters are fairly underdeveloped. Added to this, the Christmas theme is more of a backdrop than anything.
Despite this, Silent Night is still worth a watch. This is simply one of those movies you can throw on when you just want something easy. You don’t have to think too much. You can just chill out and enjoy the kills. If you are looking for blood, gore, violence and boobs. Silent Night is a great option. This is especially true if it is coming up to Christmas. While it’s not a great horror movie, it’s a perfectly competent slasher.
Is it a Knockout?
Silent Night is a remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night from 1984. Featuring a killer Santa on a rampage to decide who is naught and who is nice. This is a festive movie perfectly suited to fans of Christmas kills.
Nicely filmed and with a decent cast. The always fun Malcolm McDowell has a great time as a grumpy town sheriff. Jamie King plays the tough, no nonsense cop trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. All while Santa creatively stabs and smashes his way through the residents of Cryer Wisconsin. Not a fantastic horror movie by any stretch. There are few issues and killer isn't the most interesting villain of all time. Still, if you are looking for a fun Christmas slasher you can do a lot worse.