Saturday, 16 December 2017

Silent Night, Dead Night: A New Christmas Carol (2016)

Two things have to be mentioned at the start of this review. First of all, a question. Considering the exact same cast lists and other similarities, is Silent Night, Dead Night: A New Christmas Carol simply a retitled release of Scrooge In The Hood? I suspect it is, but I don't want to do writer-director Richard Chandler a disservice if there are enough differences between the two. Second, stop reading this review right now and head along to read the Amazon reviews for this. See all of the praise heaped upon it by horror fans, and then realise that most, if not all, of them are actually writing about the superior Silent Night, Deadly Night. And laugh heartily. Because that is generally more fun than this film.

The plot here, if it wasn't clear from the title, is a sleazy, profanity, riddled, reworking of that familiar Charles Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge (George Raynor) is a tight-fisted, unpleasant pimp/gangster who is about to become the victim of an attempted takeover by a rival gang. But that isn't of any conern to him while he spends a night in the company of the Ghost Of Christmas Past (Seregon O'Dassey), the Ghost Of Christmas Present (Todd Therrien), and the Ghost Of Christmas Future (Chandler also giving himself some time in front of the camera).

Here's my usual reminder before I come across as overly critical of any movie. I am always impressed by people who get any film made (well, unless it is all one shot on a phone with nothing done to improve sound or framing or anything that might help make it feel more like an actual movie). I know it can take a LOT of blood, sweat and tears to get something done, especially when you don't have any actual budget. With that being said, it's not enough for a film to be made with JUST good intentions. There has to be some spark there that individual viewers can choose to focus on or dismiss as they wish. That spark is there in, for example, the films of Brian Williams (director of the enjoyable Time To Kill and Space Babes From Outer Space - both available here, alongside the very enjoyable Harvest Lake). It's also in the films made by Dustin Wayde Mills (check out his Patreon page here, although I am sure he also had a standard store online somewhere). It's not here, I'm afraid.

From the opening "trailer" sequence to the deliberate lo-fi look of the main feature, to the intermission, to the loose structuring that makes everything feel both undeveloped and yet also overlong, this is an independent feature that makes almost all of the most common mistakes we have seen far too many times before.

The script is pretty dire, although saved by working from Dickens. None of the nastiness is nasty enough and none of the humour really works. The performances are as varied as you might expect - Raynor makes up for a lack of major talent with the fun of his performance, Therrien is okay as a slobby ghost, O'Dassey had me bemused with whatever accent she was using (seemed to be a different one for each line), and nobody really stands out from the rest of the cast.

I am sure there will be some people out there who will enjoy this. Hell, some people don't like watching any film with a budget over $500 (so this should make them very happy). It just didn't work for me, and it's hard to tell what was affected by the money and what was affected by a careless and lazy attitude. Humbug, mothafucka!


Here is a large selection of Christmas movies to enjoy.
And American elves can pick the same set up here.

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