Starring: Imogen Poots, Lily Donoghue, Aleyse Shannon
Director: Sophia Takal
Running Time: 92 mins
Black Christmas is an American film about a group of sorority sisters who are stalked by a menacing man, and despite their efforts to raise the alarm and resolve the issue peacefully, are laughed off time and time again.
I can’t say that I loved the original Black Christmas. As much as it played on some deeply unsettling urban legends and used classically brutal ’70s horror throughout, it was a story that never got me on the edge of my seat. However, it still had an intensity that this remake really doesn’t.
While Sophia Takai’s version of Black Christmas certainly pulls no punches when it comes to delivering a timely and passionate message about abuse and the place of women in modern society, it really struggles to keep you interested in its horror, drama and thrills throughout.
The film has more than enough violence and gore to satisfy die-hard fans of the genre, but it’s all a lot more superficial than should really be the case. In comparison to the original film, which really felt dark, violent and brutal, this Black Christmas is a little too slick and well-made for its own good, lacking the nastiness that underpins its story.
Of course, there are major differences between the films, and this remake is certainly a lot more focused on acting as an allegory for current social issues than providing simple horror fare. Now, a film with something to say is always good, and Black Christmas makes some impressively urgent points throughout, but it does so at the expense of the general excitement of its own story.
And to get a message across in genuinely powerful fashion, a film needs to get its own story right in the first place. The problem with Black Christmas, however, is that you understand the message it’s trying to get across early on, but have little chance to really connect with its characters, or get wrapped up in its story at any point.
Imogen Poots is a perfectly enjoyable lead throughout, though she’s not exactly filled with the same level of rage at the most evil of men like the film’s screenplay is, and that again undermines the movie’s central themes, because the same intensity and passion doesn’t pervade across the entire film.
Overall, I found Black Christmas a bit of a disappointment. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, this remake is a little bit stuck between its clear passion for an important social message, and a necessity to deliver exciting thrills and spills. Die-hard horror fans might enjoy its violence and sleek style, but it struggles to capture the imagination in any other way, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.2.