Black Christmas (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Glen Morgan|
|Screenplay by||Glen Morgan|
|Based on||Black Christmas
by A. Roy Moore
|Music by||Shirley Walker|
|Edited by||Chris Willingham|
|Distributed by||TVA Films|
|Running time||84 minutes
92 minutes (Unrated cut)
Black Christmas (abbreviated as Black X-Mas) is a 2006 Canadian-American slasher film written and directed by Glen Morgan and starring Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, and Andrea Martin. The film takes place several days before Christmas, and tells the story of a group of sorority sisters who are stalked and murdered by one of their house's former inhabitants during a winter storm. It is a loose remake of the 1974 film of the same name.
In December 2006, upon anticipation of its premiere, the film garnered some criticism from religious groups due to its graphic content in a holiday setting, as well as the distributor's decision to release the film on Christmas Day in the United States. The film opened in the United Kingdom on December 15, 2006, and, despite backlash from some religious organizations, opened in US theaters on Christmas Day 2006 to moderate box office success, but generally unfavorable reviews.
William Edward "Billy" Lenz, a boy born with severe jaundice due to a liver disease, is constantly abused by his hateful mother. After murdering Billy's father and burying his body in the underground crawlspace with the help of her boyfriend, Mrs. Lenz locks Billy in the attic to prevent him from talking. Years later, she attempts to conceive a new baby but realizes that her new man is impotent. She goes up to the attic and rapes 12-year-old Billy. Nine months later, a daughter named Agnes is born and treated like a princess by Mrs. Lenz. When Agnes is eight and Christmas comes around, Billy escapes from the attic and disfigures Agnes by gouging out her eye and taunts his mother, saying "she's my family now." Billy then gruesomely kills his mother and her lover. He is caught by the police eating pieces of his mother's flesh, and sent to a mental asylum.
15 years later, on Christmas Eve, Billy escapes from his cell and heads off to his former home, now a sorority house. At the Delta Alpha Kappa, Clair (Leela Savasta) is killed in her bedroom. Meanwhile Megan (Jessica Harmon) begins to hear noises and goes up to the attic to investigate. Upon finding Clair's body in a rocking chair, Megan is attacked and killed. In the living room, the other sorority girls receive a call from a rambling man, who ends the call threatening to kill them.
Clair's half-sister Leigh (Kristen Cloke) soon arrives searching for her. When the lights suddenly go out, Dana (Lacey Chabert) goes to check the powers under the house, but encounters the figure and is killed with a gardening tool. The girls in the house receive a call from Dana, and hear a scream. They leave the house to find her, only for Kelli (Katie Cassidy) and Leigh to discover blood splatters under the house, while Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg) find Eve (Kathleen Kole) decapitated in her car.
Heather and housemother Mrs. Mac (Andrea Martin) immediately flee, but Heather is subsequently killed while inside the car, and Mrs. Mac is stabbed through the head by a falling icicle. When Kelli and Leigh descend to the garage to investigate, Melissa is attacked and killed. Kelli and Leigh then find find Lauren (Crystal Lowe) with her eyes gouged out in bed. Kelli's boyfriend Kyle (Oliver Hudson) then arrives, claiming he is not the killer. The three climb to the attic, where Kyle is dragged and stabbed in the head. The killer is revealed to be Agnes, now an adult. Billy also makes his way into the attic and both killers close in on Kelli and Leigh, starting a fire. Kelli and Leigh manage to escape and leave Billy and Agnes to burn in the fire.
Later, Kelli and Leigh recover at the hospital. While Kelli goes for an X-ray, Agnes appears in the hospital unharmed and kills Leigh by snapping her neck. When Kelli returns to her room, Agnes enters through the ceiling and attacks her as well but Kelli uses the defibrillator and kills Agnes; however, Billy immediately enters also through the ceiling and chases after Kelli. They end up in the stair-rail, where Kelli ends up pushing Billy off the stair-rail where he is impaled on the tip of a Christmas tree, finally killing him, and Kelli is left to look in shock.
- Katie Cassidy as Kelli Presley
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Melissa Kitt
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Heather Lee-Fitzgerald
- Lacey Chabert as Dana Mathis
- Kristen Cloke as Leigh Colvin
- Andrea Martin as Barbara MacHenry/Mrs. Mac
- Crystal Lowe as Lauren Hannon
- Oliver Hudson as Kylerick "Kyle" Autry
- Karin Konoval as Constance Lenz
- Dean Friss as Agnes Lenz
- Christina Crivici as 8-year-old Agnes
- Robert Mann as William Edward "Billy" Lenz
- Cainan Wiebe as young Billy
- Jessica Harmon as Megan Helms
- Leela Savasta as Clair Crosby
- Kathleen Kole as Everleen "Eve" Agnew
- Howard Siegel as Billy's Stepfather
- Peter Wilds as Frank Lenz
The film was released on Monday, December 25 (Christmas Day), 2006 in the United States and grossed $3,723,364 on its opening weekend. The film went on to gross a total of $16,273,581 domestically and $21,510,851 worldwide. With its $16 million in domestic box office, Black Christmas is the lowest-grossing film among the recent slasher remakes, which consist of When a Stranger Calls (2006), Halloween (2007), Prom Night (2008), My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009), and A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010), lead by Friday the 13th (2009) with $65 million.
The film has made more money from its DVD sales than it did at the box office with a total DVD gross of $29,436,341.
The film received generally unfavorable reviews; it holds a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, labeled "rotten" based on 55 reviews. The critics agreed that it was "a gratuitous remake of the 1974 slasher, Black Christmas pumps out the gore and blood with zero creativity, humor, or visual flair". On Metacritic, the film was given an average rating of 22, based on 17 reviews.
"Like an ugly tie or a pair of slipper socks, Black Christmas is destined to be forgotten the instant it's unwrapped, gathering dust until the season rolls around again," says reviewer Sam Adams of the Los Angeles Times. Jim Ridley of The Village Voice inputs, "The product itself isn't so much afterthought as afterbirth -- a bloody mess to be dumped discreetly." When compared to the original, Desson Thomson of the Washington Post calls it "a drab, unimaginative remake. [...] The remake neither pays perceptive tribute to the original nor updates it in anything but hackneyed form." Joe Leydon of Variety goes on to say "[...] there can be no argument regarding the scant merits of its slapdash, soporifically routine remake, suitable only for the least discriminating of gore hounds." "Lazy, perfunctory and free of tension, the new version will satisfy neither the admirers of the original nor anyone looking for a gory respite from seasonal good cheer," Jason Anderson of The Globe and Mail agrees.
Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle, however, said "This film is an evocative, effective entry into the holiday blood-spray subgenre in its own right. And if it doesn't make your skin crawl ... you probably ate too much Christmas dinner." Reviewers also praised the acting of several of the lead performers, in particular Crystal Lowe, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The flashback scene which showed Billy killing his mother also earned praises from critics.
Horror review website Bloody Disgusting gave the film six out of ten and decried filmgoers and critics for comparing the original to the remake, saying "this reviewer doesn't care if a remake isn't as good as the original. The original is still there. It makes a lot more sense to judge a remake the same way the original was judged: ON ITS OWN MERITS. If the remake pales, fine. If it doesn't, that’s fine too. A decent horror movie is a decent horror movie, remake or not" concluding that the film is "a pretty good modern slasher. There’s no self-referential humor, there’s no annoying pop stars playing sassy friends, and no obvious re-editing. Instead, there’s gore, a few decent creepy moments, and some well implemented dark humor, which is more than you can say for most slashers of the past decade". The Radio Times also gave the film a positive review, giving the film three stars out of five and calling the film a "cheeky but no less brutal remake."
|2007||Scream Awards||Scream Queen||Mary Elizabeth Winstead||Nominated|
The film drew backlash from Christian groups because of the studio's decision to release the film on Christmas Day. Several groups, including Liberty Counsel and Operation "Just Say Merry Christmas", called the film "offensive, ill-founded and insensitive". L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke also questioned the filmmakers' decision to release the film on Christmas. Dimension Films defended the timing, saying, "There is a long tradition of releasing horror movies during the holiday season as counter-programing to the more regular yuletide fare." Critic "Egregious Gurnow", of The Horror Review, countered Liberty Counsel's complaint, writing, "such crimes occur throughout the year, including Christmas (as recently as a year prior--in McLean and Great Falls, Virginia to be exact)."
Additional footage was shot solely for advertisement purposes, at the request of Dimension Films. Apparently, Morgan never knew about the shooting of this footage and was enraged when he watched the trailer and realized scenes were shot without his consent. This footage was only included in the theatrical trailer and television ads, and never was intended to be part of the film. This footage included some of the cast members (including Trachtenberg and Chabert), but also featured an unknown actress who was never part of the film's initial production.
In the United States, two versions were released on home video - both R-Rated (84 minutes) and Unrated (92 minutes). The DVD release also features all of the alternate endings and deleted scenes from the film, but no trace of the advertisement footage was ever seen nor mentioned after the film finished its theatrical run.
UK vs. US version
There are some noticeable changes between the UK and the R-rated US versions of Black Christmas. For instance, for Melissa's death scene, in the original US version, her head is sliced open by a pair of ice skates that the killer flings towards as she is trying to escape through the window. In the UK version, the death scene is more elaborate, with the killer bagging her head when she is in the corridors, and dragging her for an amount of time before gouging her eyes out with his bare hands and eating her eyeballs.
For the original US ending, Billy and Agnes both survive the fire in the sorority house and kill the doctor who is checking on them at the hospital. They make their way to Kelli's ward, with Agnes disguising herself as Kelli when Leigh arrives, and snaps Leigh's neck. When Kelli returns to the ward, she is attacked, but manages to kill Agnes with a pair of defibrillators. Billy then jumps into action, and gives chase to Kelli throughout the hospital, before she pushes him down a stairwell, impaling Billy on a Christmas tree.
For the UK ending, at the hospital, Kelli and Leigh are shown to have a bit of a closure, with Leigh opening the gift that her sister Clair got for her. She is then called away to confirm the body of Agnes and Kelli is brought for an X-ray, as the burnt body of Billy flatlines. Meanwhile, Leigh discovers that the body is not of Agnes, but Clair's. She returns to Kelli's room, where Agnes snaps her neck. Kelli then returns to the room, where she is attacked but manages to kill Agnes with defibrillators. Later, Kelli's parents arrive and bring her home.
- "BLACK CHRISTMAS (15)". Pathé Distribution. British Board of Film Classification. November 21, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "Black Christmas". The Numbers. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Black Christmas (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Christian groups fume over Black Christmas.". Boston Herald. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
- "Black Christmas - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Black Christmas Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
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- "New York Movies - 'Black Christmas'". Retrieved 2000-07-11.
- Thomson, Desson (2006-12-26). "'Black Christmas' Butchers the Slasher Genre". The Washington Post.
- Leydon, Joe (2006-12-26). "Black Christmas Movie Review". Variety.
- "This page is available to GlobePlus subscribers". Toronto: Theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- "Austin Chronicle reviews". Retrieved 2000-07-11.
- "Bloody Disgusting Horror - "Black Christmas (remake)" Movie Info, Review, Headlines, Gallery". Bloody-disgusting.com. 2006-12-25. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- "Black Christmas film review". Radio Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.[dead link]
- "Christian Groups Fume Over Christmas Horror Film". Retrieved 2006-12-18.
- "Faith-Based Horror Film for Christmas?". Retrieved 2006-12-18.
- "Black Christmas not merry for religious groups". CBC News. 2006-12-15. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "Horror Bob Presents: The Horror Review - Why I Can’t Discuss Glen Morgan’s New Film, Because Liberty Counsel Says It’s Rude: Race, Religious Tolerance, Ethics, and Aesthetics and the 21st Century Holiday Horror Film. By Egregious Gurnow (2006)". The Horror Review. 2006-12-15. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- Black Christmas (Comparison: R-Rated - UK DVD) - Movie-Censorship.com
- Exclusive: UK/US Black Xmas Comparisons - Dread Central
- Black Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- Black Christmas at Box Office Mojo
- Black Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes
- Black Christmas at Metacritic