I have the nagging suspicion that director Steven C. Miller and screenwriter Jayson Rothwell, really hate Christmas. At some point in their lives they must have been wronged in some unimaginable way to hate the holiday as much as they do. Because nothing says "Happy holidays," like a flame-thrower wielding Santa hell-bent on dispensing bloody justice to those who have been naughty.
'Silent Night' (a remake of 'Silent Night, Deadly Night') takes place in a tiny Wisconsin town where Christmas is fast approaching. It just so happens that in this town they have a grand Santa parade. The town is teeming with fat men in red suits and fake beards. It's the perfect place for a deranged serial killer, dressed as Saint Nick, to roam around freely.
Aubrey (Jamie King) is one of the town's deputies. She's gearing up for the holiday season where the worst kind of crime, in her small town, is a belligerent Santa in the town square that makes kids cry from time to time. Heading up the small, local police force, is Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell). McDowell proves once again that he'll do absolutely anything he's offered. It's actually nice to see him here though, because his performance is so ridiculously over the top that he adds a few great laughs to grim experience.
It isn't soon that people start dying in brutally awful ways. Like most slasher movies the killer moves with impunity. He kills at will, all the while pulling off every evil killer cliché in the book. Slowly moving as his victims run? Check. Somehow catching up to his victims even though they've been running and he's been walking? Check. Curiously tilting his head as he watches his victims die? Check. He's got the slasher movie serial killer part down pat.
The killer skulking around town killing people dawns a creepy Santa mask that blacks out his eyes. One of those masks that people would notice in real life as completely odd and terrifying. Here people are more, or less, apathetic to it. Most of the time they don't realize he's holding a giant axe or scythe until the camera lets them in on the secret. It's one of those movies where characters lack peripheral vision.
We soon learn that the killer justifies his killings by only killing bad people. Fornicators, pornographers, corrupt politicians, mouthy teenagers, they all get the axe (literally). Of course the entire movie leads up to a showdown between deranged Santa and Aubrey. But not before we're thrown off the path by two or three outlandish red herrings that don't make any sense as to why they were included in the first place.
Yes, 'Silent Night' is a painfully predictable horror/slasher movie. It revels in serial killer tropes and never really introduces anything new to the genre. However, it does have its own brand of sick and twisted sense of humor. It's a movie that you and a few buddies could laugh at while watching it. A movie where a killer Santa sports brass knuckles that have been crudely engraved with "Ho-Ho-Ho," knows exactly the kind of movie it is. In the world of slasher horror movies, you could do worse I suppose.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is an Anchor Bay release on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. It also comes in a combo pack with a DVD copy of the movie. It's coded for Region A.
I was actually somewhat impressed with 'Silent Night's 1080p transfer. I fully expected another one of those digitally filmed, flat video presentations that are so common with lower budget movies like this one. Instead I got a rather filmic presentation (although the amount of lens flares in this movie put J.J. Abrams to shame).
Here we get a crisp, detailed picture. Close-ups feature very nice detailing of pores, facial hair, and oozing blood when needed. Black levels are wonderfully dark and never really reveal any unsightly banding. Some of the CG work can be picked apart rather easily when the high definition shines a light on it. Many of the gorier scenes, where they had to use CG blood, look really bad under the microscope of 1080p.
Low-budget CGI aside I thought 'Silent Night' looked rather good on Blu-ray. Much better than I was expecting for sure. There wasn't any banding or aliasing to report. The nighttime scenes featured great shadow detail that never resulted to crushing out the detail in the movie. Fans will be happy with the way this one turned out.
The audio is satisfying, if not forgettable. It's not that the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track does anything wrong, it's just that there isn't much to do in the first place. There's a lot of dialogue, which is clear. There are some moments of action where the flamethrower bursts to life and LFE takes over the mix and those scenes sound great.
Rear channels lack attention. Some of the creepily recorded Christmas music for the movie is piped back there, but there isn't much else. The grizzly sound effects, like blood spattering, are clear and accurate. I felt like the mix did a good job drawing me into the story, but there wasn't much that was outwardly noteworthy about it. It got the job done and that's it.
I'm not really a fan of slasher flicks, but this one seemed like it was going for dark comedy most of the time. It did feel a tad mean-spirited at a few moments where I had to question if the filmmakers really did hate Christmas as much as the movie did. McDowell's hammed up performance is worth watching the movie. He's every clichéd small town Sheriff you've ever seen rolled up into one. He's completely clueless and ridiculously ignorant, and that's what makes it so fun. Anyway, if you're looking for a more demented way to celebrate the season then be assured that the visuals are solid and the audio is strong. Worth a look if you're interested in this type of movie.