Black Christmas – 2019

Director Sophia Takai
Screenplay Takai, April Wolfe based on Black Christmas by A. Roy Moore
Starring Imogen Poots, Lily Donoghue, Aleyse Shannon, Brittany O’Grady, Caleb Eberhardt, Cary Elwes

When it comes to Blumhouse films, I always wonder whether or not the film is going to be as scary as their animated label. Something about that creepy girl not quite looking at the viewer gives the promise of unlimited scare potential.

Black Christmas is the example of the sort of film that would be not quite as scary. It’s a remake of Bob Clark’s early 70’s sorority slasher, it shares very little in common with that film. It’s still targeting college girls. It still takes place as Christmas is hitting the campus. This time it is more organized than a vagrant in the attic.

The college of the newer film is Hawthorne, who’s founder was a man of a different, more sexist time. The modern campus atmosphere involves protests and petitions to even the educational playing field. They’ve already moved the bust of founder Hawthorne to the leading fraternity house AKO from the main campus building. Now they’re trying to get one of the chauvinist professor Gelson fired.

Riley (Poots) was sexually assaulted by the fraternity’s former president. She reported him, and no one believed her. He’s back visiting for Christmas, and now girls are going missing one by one.

The film’s scares are not all that original, and thereby only partially effective. There is one moment involving the search for a kitty and a still shot that is reminiscent of Excorcist III that is as good as anything else in the film. Another scene with the sheriff responding to an emergency call that is a surprise.

Anyone who has seen the commercial will know exactly what is going to happen. If you missed the trailer, it’s still not at all a mystery who is doing this. There is a slight let turn when it gets to why, but they don’t explore it deeply enough to make it all that memorable.

Teenage girls should enjoy this more, depending on how many PG-13 horror films they have witnessed. The two I was with were more scared than I was. They also thought sorority life looked pretty interesting…aside from all the killing.

There are several lines in the film showing an articulate take on the debate between the sexes, circa 2019. It’s not anything that succinctly details the key debate in any real form. In short, men are looking for Stepford wives and the girls are looking for Plan B. This won’t change anyone’s mind.

Director Takai shows she can competently build scares into her scenes, She has an understanding that by numbers doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to surprise. She has potential to do better work, if she can develop better scripts.

(*** out of *****)

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