Mark Reviews Movies


½ Star (out of 4)

Director: Glen Morgan

Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, Andrea Martin, Crystal Lowe, Oliver Hudson, Robert Mann, Dean Friss

MPAA Rating: R (for strong horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity and language)

Running Time: 1:24

Release Date: 12/25/06

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Review by Mark Dujsik

Oh, how painfully incompetent this movie is. There have been some bad horror movies recently, and Black Christmas is one of those really, really bad ones. You know, the kind that make you sit there with your head resting on your hand as you watch crap unfurl in front of you. Your eyes are continuously rolled just to watch screen, and they threaten to pop out of your skull as your body intrinsically tries to roll them further towards the heavens. Alas, they can roll upwards no further—only downwards toward your watch. My God, it's only been how long? How long is this movie anyway? Speaking of eyeballs, what is writer/director Glen Morgan's obsession here with eyes exiting the skull every which way? How come there's no heroine yet? Is every character that appears on screen going to be a red herring until they're killed off in some tiredly gruesome way? What time is it now? Ugh, why couldn't Uwe Boll have a new movie out? At least his have some laughs in them. Boy, these characters are dumb. What time is it?

Where did this all start again? Oh yeah, there's a sorority house, and it's Christmas. Clair's (Leela Savasta) one of the sorority sisters, and she's writing the tag for her actual older sister's present when her head's covered with a plastic bag and stabbed in the eye. Merry Christmas!  There's a bunch of other girls with names like Kelli, Melissa, Heather, Dana, Lauren, Megan, and Eve (Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Jessica Harmon, and Kathleen Kole), and their house mother Ms. Mac (Andrea Martin, who was in the 1974 original) is trying to get them all excited about opening secret Santa presents. Everyone kind of wonders about Clair, especially when other sisters begin to disappear, but Ms. Mac is more interested in telling them the story of Billy (Robert Mann), who lived in this house until he murdered his family some years ago and was sent to an asylum. Billy's escaped the mental house to return home for Christmas, but obviously there's someone in the house beforehand responsible for the earlier murders. And where'd Clair's sister Leigh (Kristen Cloke) come from?

Everyone in the movie is given scenes where they look devious to try to trick the audience into thinking they're the killer. Kyle (Oliver Hudson), Kelli's boyfriend is caught sneaking into one of the sorority sister's rooms and acts mysterious, we learn quickly, because there's a sex tape featuring him on the computer. The character of Eve is brought into play so late in the exposition and her use as a red herring is completely transparent. She appears immediately after Ms. Mac tells the girls about Billy's inbred sister/daughter Agnes (Dean Friss), so obviously Eve's not the killer. The characters are so interchangeable, Morgan (the writer/director, not another sorority girl that materializes out of nowhere) doesn't even bother establishing one of them as a heroine until the last minute. Kelli simply develops into one based entirely on the process of elimination, and in the process undoes Darwin's theory of natural selection. Everyone in the movie is dumb—a security guard actually walks into Billy's cell, bends over, kneels there for a good amount of time, and doesn't even think to call for backup—but Kelli ends up the densest of the bunch. After all, she survives the longest—more time to do stupid things.

How many times do these girls have to get threatening phone calls from their missing friends' cell phones with a woman screaming in the background before they think something is amiss? While the sorority sisters get knocked off one by one, Billy's backstory is clumsily placed in the middle, and speaking of clumsy editing, the entire first climax of the movie jump cuts from random hands to random weapons. It's not until someone is killed or injured that we have any impression as to what's happened. Morgan is obsessed with eyeballs and their violent removal from the socket. The first time the killer rips the eye out of a screaming victim is enough, but eyeballs come out the front, the back, and even into a character's mouth. Earlier I said first climax, and yes, there's another. As if this whole messy concoction weren't long enough, what should be the movie's final "not dead yet" moment is dragged out into another, even less involving second anticlimactic showdown in a hospital, complete with a door that's lamely established as having the tendency to jam.

I would love to tell you I was disgusted by Black Christmas, because that would imply I actually experienced some kind of emotion during the movie. No, I only experienced my arm going numb from the weight of my head in my hand as I waited— begged and pleaded—for this monotony to end.

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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