Looking back at the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone could have taken the film seriously at all. It’s even more difficult to think that anyone could be genuinely offended by it– despite some nasty moments, the film is basically a ridiculous parody of the very idea of a Christmas-themed slasher movie. This weird semi-satirical tone is part of what has given the film its cult status, and the concept of remaking a film that already feels like a parody of itself is tough to grasp. Fortunately, the results are better than anyone could have anticipated.
Deputy Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King) is drafted to work the Christmas Eve patrol in her small town when one of her fellow deputies fails to show for work. Bradimore tries to talk her way out of it– this is her first Christmas after the death of her husband– but Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell) won’t hear it. Unknown to the police in this small Wisconsin town, a serial killer dressed in a Santa Claus suit has already started knocking off naughty locals, and shortly after her patrol begins Aubrey is involved in the most action her little town has ever seen. Too bad the number one suspect is a guy in a Santa suit, considering that the town Christmas parade has drawn dozens of Santas from all over, and while only one of them is a killer there are certainly a few that seem to have some serious issues.
Once Cooper realizes how dire the situation is, he becomes intent on locking up (or shooting down) a suspect as quickly as possible. A visiting Santa from out of town (Donal Logue) seems to be a likely suspect, as he has been terrifying the local children enough to have the cops called on him. Evidence at the scene of a slaughter at a motel points to local Santa Stein Karsson (Mike O’Brien) who recently lost his job, lives at the motel and spends his break time from the Santa gig downing booze. As the bodies pile up, Aubrey becomes sure that the killer is someone else, someone unfamiliar, but Cooper is more interested in making an arrest than being right. If she hopes to find the killer before he finishes running through his naughty list, Aubrey is going to have to do it on her own.
Silent Night is not a direct remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night, although it does take the 1984 film’s basic premise (a serial killer in a Santa Claus outfit) and repurposes some elements of the original storyline. Mostly, though, this is its own beast, which is the best way to approach this kind of remake. The tone is somewhat comedic without being too goofy, although Malcolm McDowell goes over the top and then some as the blowhard Sheriff and Donal Logue has some great lines as the bitter career Santa. Director Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale) keeps the pace brisk, and the inventive kills are effectively portrayed with some great practical effects. While Silent Night may not be the weirdo classic that the original film was, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun and well worth checking out.
Anchor Bay released Silent Night on Blu-ray and DVD on 4 December 2012. Special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted scenes.