Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmassacre Four – Black X-Mas (2006)

Now remake's always have a hard time, it seems that no matter what they do there will be a number of people who hate them on principal, or complain that they changed too much from the original or just did the same thing so whats the point? While I like to judge every film on its own merits it can be hard with remakes because that comparison to the original will still be there in the back of your mind. My personal preference is for a remake to go in its own direction, take the premise for the original and pay homage to it but try to tell the story in a new way or look at it from a new angle, and 2006's Black X-Mas is an example of doing this well.

The original Black Christmas followed the girls of a sorority house as they are picked off one by one by a serial killer, the remake follows the same premise (albeit over one night instead of a few days) but unlike the original that told us nothing about the killer other than his presumed name Billy this film spends much of it's runtime to his backstory, a very creepy back story too. I really like this as it really feels like we are looking at the other side of a coin and is a unique spin on the story.

In a nice bit of casting Andrea Martin, who was one of the sorority girls in the original plays house mother Barbara MacHenry in the remake, and she is just the start of a great cast including Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Crystal Lowe, Lacey Chabert and Kristen Cloke. All of which are great and play very well off each other and they feel like real people.

Though reception was initially mixed when it first came out the film has slowly started to become more popular over the years, and I'm glad of that. Though many still hate it I personally think this is a great horror film and a great remake.

One thing I don't think even the people who dislike this film can deny is that it is beautiful, every shot uses colour to great effect from the soft blues to the bright reds, the Christmas lights that decorate both the inside and outside of the house, and even the log fire that bathes the room in warm yellow.  Joe Dante once said there are two types of colour films, ones that happen to be in colour and 'colour films', that use colour to help tell the story, this is a 'colour film' and really stands out from the dozens of horror films these days that stick to grey, blue and otherwise dull colours.

Now it's worth mentioning that I watched this on the UK DVD which is a different cut to what America and some other places got, there are lists you can find online such as at detailing the differences. But by far the biggest change is the ending, my DVD included all four alternative endings but my favourite and the one I wish they had used is the mobile phone ending, which I have read was the original intended ending, it's the least action oriented one and ends the film on more of a chill up the spine moment which appeals to me so much more.

It is important to note that the film didn't turn out exactly the way director Glen Morgan intended due to producer and studio interference that forced him to add some more gore and jump scares to the film, and while they don't detract from the film in any major way they do in places feel unnecessary. But by far the biggest way the studio screwed him over was by filming some extra trailer only scenes without him knowing, they made the film look more like a non stop thrill ride than the slower horror film it was. Naturally as soon as the film was out word of mouth spread that scenes from the trailer such as a girl been trapped under ice or Lacey Chabert been dragged into a thresher weren’t in the film, how the studio ever thought this kind of stunt would work is beyond me.

Despite studio interference the film still turned out great and is well worth your time to check out, it's a different beast to the original but is highly enjoyable and does enough different that you won't feel like you have watched the same film twice.  Check this one out.

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