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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Silent Night (Blu-ray)
Silent Night (Blu-ray)
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // December 4, 2012 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 6, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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I know, right? Killer Santa with a Flamethrower: it's like someone caught a sneak peek at my Christmas list or something. Silent Night is a throwback to the '80s slashers I grew up with, and that makes sense seeing as how it's a kinda/sorta/not-really remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night and all. You get your hot broads and shameless nudity and a parade of splattery, dementedly over-the-top kills. The only thing is that like a lot of the slashers of days past, pretty much every scene without any blood or boobs is dead air.

Welcome to Cryer, Wisconsin! Home to a holiday parade with five hundred Santas and...well, not a lot else since the mill shut down. Cryer is pretty much in its death throes, and you can take that totally literally when an unrepentant killer dolled up as Santa storms into this sleepy little town. He knows who's been naughty or nice. If you make the "naughty" list, you don't just get a lump of coal; your head winds up split down the middle with a fuckin' axe. Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell) doesn't want to raise a panic or anything, so he and a handful of deputies try to hunt down this nutjob on the down-low. Aubrey (Jaime King) is doing what she can to help out, but she's still reeling from seeing her husband gunned down before her eyes, and if she hadn't choked then... Anyway, Aubrey is pretty much the only well-formed character in the movie, so I guess you know who your Final Girl is.

Silent Night really does have a lot going for it. Director Steven C. Miller has a hell of an eye, and I'm kind of in awe of his inspired use of shadow and off-kilter compositions. In stark contrast to the crude photography behind Silent Night, Deadly Night, this loose remake is the right kind of slick. Santa's slay ride is
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frequently kind of amazing, including what I think might be my all-time-favorite woodchipper kill. Silent Night abides by the '80s slasher rulebook where the people who are getting slaughtered deserve it (kinda), and they're tinged with a cacklingly dark sense of humor. I mean, Silent Night even has the balls to walk up to this bitchy, foul-mouthed twelve year old girl and jab her with a friggin' cattle prod, and that's kind of amazing. As ridiculous as the flick can get, Jaime King doesn't let it distract her. Hers is a startlingly intense performance, brilliantly conveying how tortured and shattered Aubrey is. As a card-carrying fan of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, it's pretty great to see Ellen Wong pop up again too.

The problem I have with Silent Night is...well, everything else. The movie doesn't really know what to do when it's not spilling guts or baring breasts, and all that in-between stuff can be kind of a slog to wade through. The mystery of who this killer Santa really is -- and all the red herrings that are lobbed out along the way -- winds up feeling pretty uninvolving. Aside from a handful of folks like Jaime King and Ellen Wong, just about all of the acting is aggressively campy and deliriously over-the-top. That could've worked really well if Silent Night were as batshit insane as Hobo with a Shotgun or something, but when you drop a cartoon character into laughless, sort of tedious scenes, it winds up just making 'em worse. That goes for the marquee draws, like Malcolm McDowell who's rockin' a the-fuck accent and a coke-addled Donal Logue, and the bit players like whoever it is that's doing the cranked-up-to-eleven skeevy priest deal. Silent Night clumsily mugs for laughs sometimes, and its gags are clunky, stale ones like the douchebag who holds some mistletoe over his head or a Santa's-got-a-boner quip as kids are sitting on his lap. The jump scares are pretty lukewarm across the board, and Silent Night never really hits the mark when it tries to ratchet up the intensity. The ending's pretty much a complete misfire, and the epilogue revealing the killer is kind of just a bad idea all around. With a worthwhile script under its arm, I think Silent Night really could've been something, but this...? Bah, humbug. Rent It.

Silent Night puts the "gore" in "gorgeous". I mean, its digital photography is superhumanly sharp and detailed. I'm so used to the
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flat look of smaller horror movies that are shot on the Red One that these deep, inky black levels and robust contrast are a greatly appreciated change of pace. The palette is generally subdued, but that's just to make the hypersaturated reds and greens leap off the screen when it counts. The strands of lights in the opening kill and the Christmas colors in the climax are kind of breathtaking. Although the bitrate is fairly modest, the AVC encode doesn't sputter or stutter, even in challenging sequences with strobes and fire and stuff. I really don't have a whole lot to complain about here.

Silent Night is served up on a single-layer Blu-ray disc and is letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. This is a combo pack and all that, so you get an anamorphic widescreen DVD outta the deal too.

Silent Night is packing a 24-bit Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, and it's pretty damn great too. I'm particularly impressed by the warmth and clarity of Kevin Riepl's score, and it's packing a hell of a low-end too. Not that the writing is any great shakes or whatever, but movie's dialogue is rendered cleanly, clearly, and balanced flawlessly in the mix just the same. There are some really nice touches in the sound design, like an off-screen skewering that splatters all over the rear channels or Aubrey getting tossed through glass doors an' into the surrounds. Really solid work.

No dubs or anything. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH) and Spanish.

  • Behind the Scenes (6 min.; HD): No narration or talking head interviews
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    this time around. Silent Night's making-of reel splices together a few minutes' worth of fly-on-the-wall footage of the cast and crew at work, leaning towards stunts and effects.

  • Deleted Scenes (5 min.; HD): The only other extra is a set of four deleted scenes, including a little more time getting to know Aubrey's folks, the mayor getting the heads-up about the whole Bad Santa deal, and the sheriff's department going on their Santa roundup.

Silent Night also has a DVD of the movie tagging along for the ride.

The Final Word
Silent Night is pretty much a glossier version of any random slasher you could've pulled off the shelf at Movie Gallery in 1986. It's teeming with demented, inspired, splattery kills, but just about every scene where the camera's not closed in on boobies or blood feels kinda tedious. Silent Night benefits from a hell of a performance by Jaime King as well as Steven C. Miller's strong direction, but the end result is too sloppily written and wildly uneven to really recommend. Rent It.
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