Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Black Christmas

Black Christmas
Michelle Trachtenberg, Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert and Kristen Cloke

Rated: R for strong horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity and language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: December 24, 2006 Released by: The Weinstein Company

Macabre merriment is to be had for the Final Destination crowd in Black Christmas, a standard, disposable redo of Bob Clark's 1975 picture which was shot in Toronto.

Now, filmed in Vancouver, the setting is a sorority house where the gals haven't departed yet for holiday break as a snowstorm is about to blanket them. Of course, they pick up weird phone calls and the house mother (Andrea Martin, returning from the original) strongly suggests leaving at once.

But, you know, they'll be snowbound and much more as a present is always left this time of year for one Billy Lenz. He happens to be the psycho son of the family who lived there before the college bought it. It turns out the son of a nasty mother would be institutionalized after killing her and his stepfather, cookie-cutter style.

From the film's trailer, we notice a fascination with eyeballs that can be munchies or ornaments. Director-writer Glen Morgan (also behind some "X-Files" programs) distinctly gives the impression of Final Destination more so than recalling Clark's picture, other than the sanitarium where Billy is housed.

So, it doesn't matter about the sorority sisters, two of whom are probably missing. They fit right into the plan of dealing with death's design as it doesn't take long to figure out how the Grand Guignol mayhem has to play out and who's on the grisly trail.

Michelle Trachtenberg (The Ice Princess), Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert, and Kristen Cloke are among the attractive youthful performers on view. Cassidy and Cloke register in tenacious, temperamental ways, respectively. Ghoul-tide cheer is brought on by the filmmakers who lavish in gory bursts from shifting camera angles and jolting jump-cuts. Yet, there is hardly any dread as one anticipates the next victim.

The original was probably the inspiration for films like Halloween and Silent Night, Deadly Night, but whatever grossouts and red herrings are fobbed off here, the result is crazed with hardly any resonance behind the explicitness. The release from Black Christmas is laughter as the emoting and running gags lit up well in a proficient production (save for the snow) slashes its way (icicles included) through terror with broad, gleeful excess.

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Black Christmas       D       D

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