I always knew there was a seedy underside to Christmas!
Written By: Michael Hickey
Directed By: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
By the time it reaches its conclusion Silent Night, Deadly Night has devolved into a mindless slasher. I’ll take it one step further even and say that by the end Silent Night, Deadly Night has lost all of its initial bite. That’s disappointing when the first half of the film is taken into account. For most of its run time Silent Night, Deadly Night is a vicious little beast. A film that has its finger on the pulse of irony and subversion. It makes the most of a limited cast and actually features some distinctive directorial flourishes. The end of a film can leave a very bitter taste if not done right, and the end of Silent Night, Deadly Night almost undoes all of the goodwill garnered by the first half.
I’m sure that Silent Night, Deadly Night was not the first piece of art to take on Christmas and the ridiculousness of Santa Claus. It’s probably not even the first horror film to do so, but the strength of Silent Night, Deadly Night is not in its innovation or freshness. Rather, Silent Night, Deadly Night is pretty darn worthwhile because of its willingness to subvert the idea of Santa Claus and the church. There’s a base level of subversion in the simple idea of making the man in the red suit with the jolly cheeks into a killer. On that level alone Silent Night, Deadly Night is subverting the very idea behind Christmas. Luckily the film doesn’t stop with a base attack and instead mocks the entire idea of naughty and nice, getting gifts for being good, and the terrifying representation of punishment that is Santa Claus. Mr. Hickey’s script is surprisingly deep when it comes to diggings its claws into the Santa Claus figure.
Santa Claus is the main target of the film, but the church is jabbed at somewhat in Mr. Hickey’s script. It’s only during a small five to ten minute stretch, but it’s a potent little stretch. The correlation is made between the church and Santa, specifically the tendency of the church to use fear mongering to keep its followers in line. Is it any doubt that an organization that makes its followers feel guilty for simply being alive is bound to produce a few loonies?
I did enjoy some of the kills in Silent Night, Deadly Night. The willingness of the film to accept its 1980s slasher roots with lots of naked women, bad acting, and contrived death set-ups was also welcome. I wish the film didn’t run out of steam near the end, but by tossing aside its attempts at subversion and settling for being a normal slasher the film doth come up lame in the end. Silent Night, Deadly Night wasn’t what I was expecting, and then it was. I enjoyed the film as a whole, but the lost promise of the first half is disheartening to say the least.