I don’t normally get offended very easily while watching movies. If I ever do get offended, it’s normally because a film is trying to pass itself off as something completely original and instead is just a scene by scene rip off mash up of other, better films in the same genre. Those definitely do not put a smile on this face. BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019) is one of the only handful of films that have offended me in a different way. This is the first one to offend me as a man. Do know this: I do not mind or hate #metoo, feminist, girl power, gender equality films at all. In fact, some of those films are absolutely fantastic, from guilty pleasures all the way to being some of the best films ever made and on my list of personal favorite films of all time. Black Christmas takes its message, one that could have been better portrayed by different filmmakers, puts it on top of a sledgehammer and just beats you to death with it. Let me rephrase: HATEFULLY beats you to death with it. This film is the most anti-man, hardcore feminist, man hating film I have ever seen. It basically just yells in your face that ALL men are rude, obnoxious, women hating rape monsters. We are all terrible pigs and we want all the power and we want women to always be behind us and never have any power of their own. And we want to kill all the women that stand in our way. This film is just one giant hate filled message that a. isn’t subtle or clever, b. only one sided, and probably the worst part about it is that c. it isn’t scary at all.
If you didn’t know, this Black Christmas is the 2nd remake of a 1974 horror classic. Do us all a favor and just watch that one. Not this one, and definitely not the 2006 mess either. Anyway, while those two films are very related to each other story wise, this Black Christmas is a remake that’s by name only and the only other connection is a location link in that they all take place on a college campus with fraternities and sororities. This story is about a girl named Riley, who is still trying to recover after being raped by a fraternity (named AKO) president named Brian, who was not convicted by the police but forced to leave the campus just the same. He is in town visiting and is in the audience when the girls participate in the AKO talent show and they utterly humiliate the fraternity brothers by changing the lyrics to a Christmas song and turning it into a song about male toxicity and rape culture (the only funny and clever part of the film and its message). Soon, sorority sisters are being killed off one by one by a cloaked figure in a mask. And then the rest of the film is just the girls talking about how all men are awful (even the phase “oh no you didn’t just ‘not all man’ me”) and then the climax of the film helps, in a ridiculous and non realistic fashion, stab that message into your blood stream, over and over again. Of course, this film being a dumb-downed PG-13 horror film, you don’t get any blood, you don’t get any kills on screen, and all you get are cheap, unearned jump scares.
The whole time while I was watching the movie I was thinking, “this has a good idea somewhere in its soul that could bring a good conversation to the table about male toxicity and rape culture…but this is all just so one-sided and hateful to be it.” It would’ve helped if there was more than just one…one and a half small role male sympathetic characters in the movie. Hell, it might’ve even helped if those two roles were a little beefed up, instead of both being either a. easily corrupted or b. killed off very quickly. The one really sympathetic male character in the film, Landon, seemed like he was a last minute addition to the film, where the studio went, “whoa hey, uhhhh yeah, you need to have a sympathetic male in the film, no matter how small the role, or people aren’t going to take your message seriously.” They were right about that. Every piece of dialogue in this film is just a hateful message that I couldn’t take seriously because of its bias. The script, in my opinion, needed a large overhaul, with a carefully calculated plan of action, with more subtlety and cleverness than just spewing hatred out of its mouth the entire time. I get it, sometimes people won’t listen unless you scream right into their ear. I don’t think you can do that with movies though, because then you just seem like a raging Michael Moore whose only opinions you care about are your own.
But let’s steer away from the man hating agenda and get to the most offensive thing about this film: it’s not scary. This is supposed to be a horror film about female empowerment yet the filmmakers decided to dumb everything down with a “play it safe” PG-13 movie with no blood, no gore, and no scares. Just cheap unearned jump ones. One of the “frights” even completely rips off one of the greatest scares of all time in Exorcist III. That doesn’t work in general. In fact, it might’ve even helped the message if the film was Rated R, had some more blood and gore to make the killings of these sorority sisters more horrifying to watch and thus become very sympathetic to their cause. But the cutaways are laughable, the off screen deaths just felt cheap, too quick and random to be earned, and the “twist” to what is really going on at the campus is so unbelievably stupid that it renders pointless anything the filmmakers were ultimately trying to say with the film. Without spoiling too much, the film tries to switch genres in the third act and nothing that came before it transitions that switch well. At all. It just comes out of left field, just beats the dead horse “all men are awful” message, and ultimately just falls flat on its face when the movie just abruptly ends.
This whole thing just seemed like a very rushed project in order to release the film by Christmas time. If the filmmakers had been given another year of rewrites, retooling, making a hard cord R rated Christmas horror film and some re-title-ing, this film could’ve worked. Its very frustrating knowing that it could’ve worked well. The only thing decent in the film is the acting. Well, to be more specific. The female acting. Imogen Poots plays the lead with a lot of unknowns and they actually do a pretty good job screaming in terror but then becoming empowered and not afraid anymore and fighting back. All the male characters in this, since they were underdeveloped, the acting turned out to be abysmal. Especially from Cary Elwes, who seems to just ham it up with weird accents that make his characters too over the top nowadays. The whole thing reminded me of that awful new Twilight Zone episode called “Not All Men” from earlier this year. And I thought that episode was hateful…this one takes the candy cane.
I’m not familiar with the other works of writer April Wolfe and writer/director Sophia Takal, but even though I did not like this film one bit, their future project or collaborations I could see have some true potential. They have something to say, it just needs to be more focused, clever, and subtle, and less murdering you right in the face with it. Needless to say, if you hate men, or are a hardcore feminist, or are easily very biased, you are probably going to love this film. If you love the 1974 Black Christmas and hated the 2006 remake, you are probably going to think the 2006 one is a masterpiece after seeing this garbage. It’s a very mediocre bordering on abysmal horror film with a blurry message that not only spoon feds it to its audience, but takes that spoon, and about a dozen other bigger ones, and shoves them all down your throat at once, making you choke to death.
P.S. the trailer has the line “Ho, Ho, Ho Bitch” in it, something I was really looking forward to one of the females saying to the toxic males in the climax. FALSE ADVERTISING! That line in the trailer was nowhere to be found in this film. Also, re watching the trailer, it shows you the whole movie, with almost all the spoilers…the whole thing needed better marketing.