Circumstance leaves a group of sorority sisters still in their house a few days prior to Christmas. Simultaneously, Billy Lenz, the spree killer that lived in their home years prior, escapes from captivity. Immediately thereafter, he returns to his childhood dwelling. Bill then teams up with his sister-daughter Agnes, who has been off the grid for years. The pair join forces to wish the girls a Merry Christmas…and a blood soaked New Year.
Black Christmas (2006) is written and directed by Glen Morgan (Final Destination). It is the remake that no one asked for. It is Black Christmas modernized for the 21st century – complete with cell phones and sex tapes. The original is one of the greatest slasher films of all time and left very little to be improved upon in a reboot. However, if taken as its own standalone effort, Black Christmas (2006) isn’t completely without merit. There’s plenty to pick apart about the film but there are also a handful of things this reimagining gets right.
Among the film’s flaws, it takes some major leaps of faith that most viewers probably won’t be on board with. For example: While I’ve never tried it, I would be willing to bet that a regular sized candy cane is not strong enough to puncture a corroded artery. But that doesn’t stop this reboot from making it happen.
Also detrimental to the greater good of the film are some of the less tasteful effects. The eyeball gauging and subsequent sampling is absolutely grotesque. It is uncalled for and completely disgusting. The original is understated when it comes to violence and displays a great deal more tact in its depiction of death. Fans expect to see things amped up in a remake but the scenes where the killer is eating eyeballs and using them as Christmas decorations is just unnecessary. The same goes for the Christmas cookie sequence. Watching Billy bake a Christmas snack with the only ingredient being his mother’s flesh is in somewhat poor taste.
Another problem with this 2006 remake is that it goes far too in depth in its efforts to give Billy a substantial backstory. The original left a lot of unanswered questions. It gave the viewer the perfect amount of information and then left the audience to draw their own conclusions. The remake hits the viewer over the head with expository dialogue and flashback sequences to make sure that everyone is keenly aware of Billy’s tormented childhood and murderous past. While I expected that the reboot would offer some additional explanation as to Billy’s disposition, I was not prepared for just how much of the film would be dedicated to Billy’s past.
As I said previously, this reboot isn’t all bad. It has a series of high points in addition to its downfalls. One of the things I appreciated about this redux is that it goes out of its way to differentiate itself from the original film. As both the writer and director, Glen Morgan is careful to ensure that his film doesn’t too closely parallel the 1976 original. Also, to the credit of Morgan’s screenplay, this reimagining isn’t utterly predictable. The order in which the sisters die and the manner in which they die is frequently unpredictable.
Another strong suit of Black Christmas (2006) is the level of painstaking detail that went into designing the makeup effects. While they are nauseating at times, the FX are done practically and convincingly. Also, the death scenes are really creative. There are several kills that really stand out as especially inventive.
There is a surprising lack of nudity in this redux. Anyone just looking for pillow fighting coeds will be disappointed. But the original Black Christmas wasn’t a boob fest, so I was actually pleased to see the remake exercise some restraint.
It’s likely that you’ve already seen the 2006 Black Christmas reboot. But if you haven’t, you’re not missing a great deal. It’s probably worth seeing for the death scenes alone but there’s no rush.
Director(s): Glen Morgan
Writer(s): Glen Morgan
Stars: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg
Studio/ Production Co: Dimension Films
Budget: $9 Million
Sub-Genre: Holiday Slasher