12 Days Of Christmas Horror (Day 4) – Silent Night (2012)

silent_night-poster-2012Let me tell you about Christmas. It ain’t all candy canes and pretty lights.”

It would be impossible to make a great Christmas horror without a little bit of camp. As seen in my last piece for our alternative 12 Days of Christmas countdown, Tales from the Crypt was exactly that – I mean you can’t be completely straight-faced when presenting a tale of Joan Collins being stalked by Santa. As we move onto Day 4 things are getting even further over the top with the sorely underrated Silent Night from 2012 – a loose remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).

I say loose because the only real similarity between this and its predecessor is the fact they’re both focussed on serial murders wearing Santa suits (plus there’s the odd line of familiar dialogue). The 2012 version sees a small Midwestern US town terrorised by a killer Santa Claus who is picking off townsfolk on Christmas Eve in a variety of grisly ways. The local police force, headed by Malcom McDowell’s Sheriff Cooper and Jaime King’s battle-scarred police officer, are charged with bringing that mean old Santa Claus to justice.

In a post-Batman Begins world, genre films strive to be gritty, dark and brooding – Silent Night is so boldly garish and simple in its premise that it is undeniably refreshing. Somewhat like 2013’s fantastic gore-soaked throwback Texas Chainsaw 3D, Silent Night pulls no meta-punches, doesn’t give two shits about found-footage, and 110% embraces the ridiculousness of its concept. The result is some of the most fun you’ll have at Christmas.

Filled with an abundance of gory kills, crass nudity, and Santa-themed punnage, Silent Night is the sort of thing that would have been a home-video sensation in the eighties. With some of the trashiest moments scene in a contemporary horror film – director Steven C. Miller chocks this full of the unhinged atmosphere of an eighties exploitation classic. Stand out scenes like Santa crashing an amateur porn shoot and pushing its lead actress into a woodchipper or a sex scene feature a barrage of festive puns like “It looks like Santa’s going to come early this year” help make this a trash classic.

It’s not just Santa Claus that the townsfolk need to look out for – in a scene which sees Officer Aubrey Bradimore in need of faith, she visits the local church where the sleazy Reverend Madeley is keen to erm… comfort her: “Jesus loves you Aubrey. He’s always here for you… and so am I… If there’s anything I can do to ease your pain… Anything at all…” All said whilst the perverted priest tightens his clammy grip on her shoulder. It’s a laugh out loud scene, so bizarre – yet it fits the trashy aesthetic of Silent Night perfectly. Don’t worry, Santa sorts him out.

There’s also electrocution by Christmas lights, drunk store Santas, and a tour de force of camp from Malcolm McDowell who is truly let off the reins here. McDowell deliver some of the film’s finest dialogue – like bitching about Glee or using a strange burger analogy to describe police work. He also delivers such gems as: “A crime fighter’s senses are almost primeval. Like when we hunted cave bears or dinosaurs,” and “Big mistake, bringing a flamethrower to a gunfight” before being torched by said flamethrower.

Silent Night is an unashamedly excessive throwback to the classic Christmas exploitation slasher, which joyously never takes itself too seriously.

Andrew McArthur

12 Days of Christmas Horror – Day One / Day Two / Day Three