“Don’t put avocado on the burger!”
You just can’t take a movie like “Silent Night” all that seriously. It’s twisted, demented, and weird, and features a small town with a perverted priest, and a slew of gorgeous women sauntering about like it’s just another day. Jaime King is the sheriff, Ellen Wong is her secretary, single moms are attractive, and the slashing Santa spends most of his time murdering good looking women in the most sadistic ways imaginable. It’s a splatter film and an exploitation film first and foremost, so if you’re expecting high art with complex themes about Christmas, you should look elsewhere. Director Steven C. Miller knows exactly what kind of film he’s directing, and he never holds back from delivering the gore and the torture in all of the most convenient forms possible.
A vicious masked Santa has just rolled in to a small Wisconsin town and is making sure to punish all the sinners that have besmirched what the holidays are about. In record time he takes out a shit faced little girl, a pornographer, a porn model, and many more bad people with about as painful a manner he can compose, and he never holds back. “Silent Night” also has the benefit of probably the most brutal wood chipper scene ever filmed. Steven C. Miller’s “Silent Night” almost revels in its sheer camp and schlock value and offers the audience some genuine laughs when not showing off some wicked and clever forms of torture and mutilation. Every member of the cast give over the top and goofy performances, and everyone seems to be in on the joke.
Ellen Wong is memorable as the smart alleck secretary who approaches the murders with a slick grin, Donal Logue is hilarious as a bitter Jewish Santa, Jaime King is fantastic as the young deputy attempting to prove herself, and Malcolm McDowell steals the movie from literally everyone as the chest puffing sheriff who slithers through every clunky line like he’s in a Mel Brooks movie. McDowell is handed the best moments of the movie including his burger metaphors for over complicating simple murders, and his conversation with the town mayor as the mayor is strangled over the phone by Santa. It’s all so self aware and deliriously stupid, you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride. “Silent Night” doesn’t so much focus on the santa’s mental anguish as it does the identity of the person behind the mask. There’s a lot of speculation as to who is committing the murders, and when it’s finally revealed, there’s admittedly no big twist to it.
It’s just what you’d expect, with an open ended climax that leaves room for more films of this ilk. In either case, while the movie itself is gruesome slasher fare, director Miller really has an eye for grit and gloom and offers up some great directorial chops that keep the film looking fantastic with a grindhouse gloss that is subtle and appreciated. “Silent Night” is by no means a masterpiece, but it’s a damn good time with a great villain who spares no one. It’s often a goofy an over the top bit of slasher fare with ridiculous performances, but it’s also a lot of fun offering a bevy of laughs and incredible grue that slasher buffs will appreciate. This is a villain I wouldn’t mind see rolling in to another small town to wreak havoc on.