horror, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 27th, 2014 Movie – Black Christmas (2006)

black christmas 2006

Remakes, remakes, everywhere you look it’s a remake. Now I will say that at least Hollywood had the right idea in trying to remake this movie. The original was about a group of sorority girls being picked off by a killer so they didn’t really stray too far in that regard. They then decided to get some young recognizable starlets to make up the bulk of the cast to draw in the audience. Now I had seen the original movie years ago and thought had considered going to see the remake but a lot of things were going on in my life at that point which made that not a viable option. I eventually decided to pick up a copy of Black Christmas (2006) on the cheap to satisfy my curiosity about it so let’s see if it was worth the purchase.

The plot: At the Delta Alpha Kappa sorority house at Clemson University outside of Boston, Clair Crosby is busy wrapping Christmas gifts and signing cards for her housemates when someone wraps a plastic bag over her head and stabs her in the head with her fountain pen. Elsewhere, at the criminally insane ward of a hospital, William “Billy” Edward Lenz, leaves a present for the guard outside his door, and when the guard opens it, he finds a note from Billy, saying that he will be home for the holidays. When the guard checks Billy’s cell, he finds it empty and goes inside to check it, only for Billy to stab him with a candy cane and escape. Back at the sorority house, Kelli Presley is outside kissing her boyfriend Kyle goodnight before heading inside the sorority house. Barbara “Ms. Mac” MacHenry, the house mother, is going over the presents under the tree and checking to see which sorority girls are still there, then asks Kelli to go get some of the stragglers so they can open gifts. Kelli knocks on Megan’s door but Megan refuses to come out, as she is actually watching a video of her and Kyle having sex. After Kelli leaves, Megan hears some noises coming from the attic and she goes to check it out, only to be attacked and killed. Back downstairs, Ms. Mac is trying to find the traditional present for Billy and Heather says she did but didn’t see the point of buying a gift for a serial killer. Ms. Mac explains the tradition, saying that the sorority house once belonged to the Lenz family and when Billy was born, he was shown to have been born with severe jaundice. Billy’s mother was upset over Billy’s appearance and several years later, her and her lover would kill Billy’s father and bury him underneath the house. Billy, who had a penchant for crawling through the walls of the house, had seen them kill and bury his dad but his mother spotted him and ends up locking him in the attic. Years later, Billy’s mother tries to have another baby but her new husband is impotent and she decides to go up to the attic and rapes a 12 year old Billy. Nine months later, Agnes is born and as she looks down on her, Billy’s mother hears Billy moving around upstairs and looks at the ceiling and says that Agnes is her family now, then goes back to looking at her baby. In the present, the girls receive a strange phone call from Claire’s cell phone and Heather wants to call the police but gets overruled by the others. Heather heads upstairs to pack and runs into Eve, a reclusive housemate, who gives Heather her secret Santa gift, a glass unicorn, then leaves the house to head home for the holidays. As the girls and Ms. Mac continue opening gifts, they receive another strange phone call, this time from Megan’s cell. Kelli goes upstairs to confront Megan about the call and is surprised to see Kyle coming out of the room. As the others arrive upstairs, Kelli asks if Megan is in there but Kyle says he didn’t see her. Kelli decides to go check the room and as the others tell Kyle about the phone calls, he tells them that he used to live on this block and the story about this house always scared all of the kids. He tells them about how when Agnes was 8, Billy attacked her on Christmas Eve, pulling out her right eye. When they tried to stop him, Billy killed his stepfather and mother, then proceeded to make cookies from his mother’s flesh and was eating them when the police arrived. Billy was sent to the mental hospital while Agnes was saved, though she lost her eye, and was placed in an orphanage, where everyone lost track of her after that. Suddenly, everyone hears a door slam and as Ms. Mac and the other girls head downstairs to see who is there, Kyle heads into the room and tries to convince Kelli to leave with him but she refuses as she is worried about Megan, as all of her stuff is there and her car is still there but there is no sign of her. Downstairs, Ms. Mac and the others find Claire’s half sister Leigh, who is a legacy of the sorority, in the room, upset about the fact that Claire was supposed to be waiting for her but there is no sign of her. Suddenly, the power goes out and as everyone tries to find ways to see in the dark, Kelli sees the video on Megan’s computer when the screen saver shuts off as it switched to battery power and she gets upset with him and kicks him out of the house. As that is going on, Melissa takes care of Lauren, who had gotten drunk and was throwing up, and helps her into the shower before placing her in her bed, unaware that someone was watching them from the floor. Leigh notices that the other houses on the street have power and Dana heads outside to check the circuit breakers outside when she is dragged into the crawlspace under the house and killed. Inside the house, the girls receive a call from Dana’s cell and hear her screaming before the same creepy voice comes on the phone. Kelli, Melissa, Heather, and Leigh go outside looking for her and Heather notices Eve’s car is still there. When she goes to check it with Leigh, she opens the door and Eve’s head rolls out, causing her to scream and bringing the others over. The girls all rush back into the house and Kelli calls 911 but is told that because of the storm, help won’t arrive for hours. Ms. Mac wants to head to the police station and Heather decides to go with her. She gets her car started but as she is scraping the ice off her windows, Heather is killed inside the car and as Ms. Mac backs away in horror, she is accidentally killed by a falling icicle. Seeing that the car isn’t moving, Kelli and Leigh try to go check on them but find the garage door blocked by Ms. Mac’s body. Inside, Melissa is attacked by the killer and tries to get away but the killer throws a pair of ice skates at her head, killing her. Lauren is lying in bed and feels someone feeling her up and, seeing the glass unicorn on her nightstand, she goes to use it against her attacker, only to be grabbed and have the unicorn used against her. Kelli and Leigh head back inside the house and, seeing someone moving around outside, rush upstairs to Lauren’s room, unaware that she is dead. Kelli tries texting Melissa to see where she is and hears the tone coming from the attic, noticing a light through a hole in the ceiling that suddenly goes out. Kyle bursts in the room and tells them about the two dead bodies and Kelli motions them to be quiet, then calls Melissa’s cell, while pointing up to the attic. They hear the ringtone and the light briefly shine and go out, then the light returns and Kelli’s cell phone rings. Kelli answers it, asking Billy where her friends are but gets no response. They decide to head up to the attic to investigate but as he opens the attic door, Kyle is grabbed and dragged upstairs and killed as Kelli and Leigh head up there. The killer then lights some candles and the other girls are shown to have been brought up there, with their eyes removed and used as ornaments for the Christmas tree up there, with Eve’s head as the angel. Leigh ends up falling through the floor and Kelli attacks the killer, who is revealed to be Agnes. As Billy shows up in the attic, Agnes tries to kill Kelli and their struggle knocks the candles off the table, starting a fire. Kelli and Agnes end up falling between the walls of the house and Leigh breaks the wall in the laundry room to free Kelli, leaving Billy and Agnes to burn to death in the fire. Kelly and Leigh are taken to the hospital while Billy and Agnes’ bodies are taken to the morgue but both Billy and Agnes managed to survive, as Billy kills the morgue attendant. Leigh steps out of Kelly’s room for a moment as she heard a sound coming from the ceiling, and when she returns, she sees Kelli lying in bed and approaches her only for it to be revealed that it is really Agnes, who kills Leigh. Kelli, who had gone for x-rays, is brought back to her room and she notices the bloody tag from Leigh’s Christmas gift and blood coming from the ceiling light. She hits the emergency button to try and get some help as Agnes emerges from the ceiling but when no help comes, Kelli charges up some defibrillator pads and uses them to kill her. Billy emerges from the ceiling and Kelli smashes the window so she can unlock the door and get out of the room. Billy chases after her and the two struggle before Kelli manages to throw him off a stairwell, where he is impaled on a Christmas tree in the lobby below.

Black Christmas (2006) was panned by the critics, holding a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A gratuitous remake of the 1974 slasher, Black Christmas pumps out the gore and blood with zero creativity, humor, or visual flair.” During one scene, the infamous “leg lamp” from A Christmas Story can be seen in the background; a subtle nod to Bob Clark, who directed both A Christmas Story and the original Black Christmas (1974). Despite the bad reviews, the movie was a small hit at the box office, earning $21.5 million off of a $9 million budget.

Alas, this was pretty much your typical, and unfortunately forgettable, teenage slasher movie. The acting was ok, with Katie Cassidy (Kelli), Michelle Trachtenberg (Melissa) and Kristen Cloke (Leigh) doing decent jobs in their roles. I will give props to them for bringing in Andrea Martin to play Ms. Mac, as she had played one of the girls in the original movie. The story was ok but I think they tried too hard to do a misdirect as to who the killer was and it ended up being rather anti-climactic when the big “reveal” occurred. The special effects around the kills were good, and a bit more gorey than necessary at times, but I guess they were trying to make up for a lackluster story. I would have to rewatch the original movie again to determine which one is better but as far as cookie cutter horror movies go, this one is worth giving a shot if you catch it on TV.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5


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