Black Christmas (2019)

At the end of the day you can’t even call “Black Christmas” a remake. It’s not even a re-imagining when you get down to it. At first it bears a slight resemblance to the original film’s themes, but once it shows all of its cards, it’s just aping the title for brand familiarity. And it fails, big time. “Black Christmas” has good intentions with a very relevant message, but it forgets story, suspense, and inherent terror, in exchange for a silly, preachy, and convoluted premise.

Hawthorne College is quieting down for the holidays. But as Riley Stone and her Mu Kappa Epsilon sisters prepare to deck the halls with a series of seasonal parties, a cloaked black-masked stalker begins killing sorority women one by one. As the body count rises, Riley and her squad start to question whether they can trust any man. Whoever the killer is, he’s about to discover that this generation’s young women aren’t victims, and are prepared to fight any maniac.

By writer/director Sophia Takal and co-writer April Wolf have a great intention behind “Black Christmas” as they take an opportunity to use a mainstream horror film to convey ideas about rape, the #metoo movement, and war of the sexes. So much of the entertainment value is almost slim to nil, sadly. I found myself surprisingly bored most of the time during “Black Christmas” as it works more as a murder mystery than a slasher movie. Rather than confronting the idea of toxic masculinity and accountability in the face of rape, “Black Christmas” takes the easy way out by introducing a goofy supernatural element in the finale. The whole set up of the presence of a sinister enemy on the campus arouses more questions than suspense, and feels like a cop out.

What little social observations about rape and sexual assault there is, amounts to trite exchanges between characters abruptly shut down to move the narrative along. In the end, nothing is really solved and there’s not a lot of reason to converse about the ideas presented, save for a final scene that may or may not be ambiguous. There’s also not a ton of rhyme or reason for the sinister plot inevitably explained; what’s the bigger picture behind everything unfolding here? In either case, “Black Christmas” does garner some good, memorable performances from Imogen Poots and Aleyse Shannon, respectively. They’re just not worth the muddled social commentary, and terrible pacing that amounts to a pretty abysmal holiday horror movie that makes the 2006 remake look genius.