7 April 2007 | gavin6942
A Modestly Flawed Remake of the Bob Clark Classic
Many years ago, a mistreated boy named Billy Lenz slaughtered his family in a one-house killing spree. Not surprisingly, this had him committed to an asylum. Since then, his house has been converted into a sorority house. And this Christmas, Billy wants to be home with his family to celebrate.
Let me say a few nice things before I start venting. First, I have to say I must have been a very good boy this year because I can't recall such an attractive cast in the recent past. Three of my all-time favorite young ladies show up here: Michelle Trachtenberg ("Eurotrip"), Lacey Chabert ("Pleasure Drivers"), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (numerous recent horror films, including "Final Destination 3"). It was quite the visual feast!
I also enjoyed the inclusion of Andrea Martin as Ms. MacHenry, the house mother. Martin was one of the college girls from the original film and I think it's important to pay some sort of tribute like this (as well as the use of "Clark Sanitarium"). She was a good pick, better than Margot Kidder.
And the use of incest and cannibalism is always a plus (both of which were absent in the original)... and the gore was decent (though not great) with the constant eye-gouging thanks to a glass unicorn. I do love unicorns, as my embroidered unicorn pillow might suggest. While I do not think it was intentional, I appreciate how the unicorn reminded me of another great classic, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes".
But let's start the ripping: Glen Morgan was probably the wrong guy to direct this. He brought along cast members from his prior films (again, such as "Final Destination 3") which was fine, but seemed to put very little thought into any of this. And his films have more of a teenager quality to them, making even the gore, incest and cannibalism seem very youth-oriented, if that makes any sense. R-Rated or not, this was meant for teens to watch. He could have really stepped it up a dozen notches.
The girls get little or no personalities. I don't think I learned half of their names and had difficulty keeping them straight. Maybe reduce the number by one or two so we could at least see them for ten minutes? On the flip side, the film focused almost entirely on Billy Lenz, providing his entire back story. The original never touched on this at all, which made him creepier and more mysterious. Here, there's nothing strange about him (besides the yellow skin and eyes, which play no importance). Obviously, Morgan never learned the secret of good horror: don't show the killer.
Furthermore, they wasted the character of the boyfriend Kyle (who was named Peter in the original). Here, he is briefly thought by the girls to be the killer, but the audience knows the whole time that he's not. In the original, you never know whether or not Peter is the killer (in fact, many people who watched all the way to the end still aren't sure). If Kyle isn't a red herring, and his only purpose is to bring up some sex tape which was not important to the story (despite being shown again and again), then what the hell was he doing in the movie at all?
Other great elements from the original were toned down: the police station scenes, the drunk girl (who now passes out right away). And a shower scene was added, but no explicit nudity, making it almost a complete waste of time.
I'll stop before I start frothing at the mouth. Because, seriously, I was let down. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this movie, but it was clearly the teen remake (not unlike the newer "When A Stranger Calls"). If you need a fix of girls getting strangled with a plastic bag and stabbed in the eye (and that's really all you'll see), check this out. Otherwise, you'll find plenty of great slashers out there on the video shelf. And, of course, you simply cannot beat the original "Black Christmas", one of the best horror films ever made.