Black Christmas (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Glen Morgan|
|Produced by||Marty Adelstein
|Screenplay by||Glen Morgan|
|Based on||Black Christmas
by A. Roy Moore
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
|Music by||Shirley Walker|
|Editing by||Chris Willingham|
Hard Eight Pictures
|Distributed by||TVA Films (Canada)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (United States)
Pathé (United Kingdom)
|Running time||84 minutes
92 minutes (Unrated cut)
|Box office||$21,510,851 |
Black Christmas (abbreviated as Black X-Mas) is a 2006 Canadian-American slasher film written for the screen 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 Lenz, a boy born with a rare liver medical condition that makes his skin yellow, is constantly abused and hated by his mother, Mrs. Lenz, due to her hate towards her husband, Frank. Setting her eyes on another man, she has him kill Frank, and they bury his body in the underground crawlspace under the house. When Billy is seen witnessing this, she locks him in the attic to prevent him from talking.
A few years later, when Mrs. Lenz tries to conceive a new baby with her new man, she realizes he is impotent, and goes up to the attic and engages in incestuous sex with 12-year-old Billy. Soon, a daughter named Agnes is born and treated like a princess by Mrs. Lenz, while Billy is left hated in the attic and locked.
When Agnes is eight and Christmas comes around, Billy escapes and disfigures Agnes by gouging out her eye and then calls his mother taunting her saying, "she's my family now." Mrs. Lenz, horrified, runs from the kitchen screaming for her son and, with her lover, find Agnes with a bag over head screaming in pain and terror. Mrs. Lenz' lover charges at Billy, but is stabbed through the eye with a Christmas tree ornament. Horrified, Mrs. Lenz attempts to run away, but Billy wraps the Christmas lights around her neck and drags her into the kitchen, where he beats her to death with a rolling pin. He grabs a cookie cutter and proceeds to make cookies out of his mother's flesh. He is caught by the police, who arrive at the house to see him eating the cookies and dipping them in milk which has him sent to a mental asylum.
Around 15 years later, on Christmas Eve 2006, Billy escapes from his cell after killing the security guard by stabbing him in the neck with his candy cane he sharpened, butchers a man in a Santa Claus costume, and disguises himself in the costume to escape while carrying the Santa Claus bag. He then heads off to his former home, now a sorority house.
At a sorority house, Delta Alpha Kappa, Clair Crosby is writing a letter Christmas card for her half-sister until the killer enters the house and brutally murders her by stabbing her eye with a fountain pen. Meanwhile Megan Helms, another sorority girl, watches a video tape until she heard noises and goes in the attic to investigate, which the killer suddenly attacks and kills her, unnoticed by the other girls. In the living room, the girls receive a call from a rambling man. During the call, Lauren Hannon taunts the caller, and he threatens to kill them.
Meanwhile, Clair's half-sister, Leigh Colvin, arrives searching for her. After the lights go out, Dana Mathis hesitantly goes to check them under the house. Suddenly, someone grabs her face and pulls her in. After a violent struggle, the figure finally kills her with a gardening tool. The girls receive a call from Dana on one of their cell phones, and hear a scream. Most of the girls leave the house to find her, only to discover her dead, and find Eve Agnew, decapitated in her car.
Heather Lee-Fitzgerald and Mrs. Mac are willing to drive to the police. Mrs. Mac goes to scrape the window while Heather stays in the car, but is killed by the killer who was hiding in the back seat. Mrs. Mac steps back in horror when she sees the killer going out in the window on the inside and hits the door of the garage making a sharp piece of ice fall and impale her head. Kelli Presley and Leigh having noticed they are taking so long for the car to leave, go check in the garage, leaving Melissa Kitt and a sleeping Lauren alone in the house. The killer strikes again, killing Melissa with an ice-skate thrown to her head as she attempts to escape out a window and Lauren, who has her eyes gouged out, much to Kelli and Leigh's horror when they both discover her corpse. Kelli and Leigh find Kyle Autry, Kelli's ex. He proves himself not to be the killer, and helps them. The three check the attic, where Kyle is dragged and stabbed in the head with a unicorn-head statue.
The killer is revealed to be Agnes, now an adult. She introduces most of the murdered girls' dead bodies by a Christmas tree. 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.
Kelli and Leigh are treated at the hospital. While Kelli goes for an X-ray, Agnes appears in the hospital unharmed and kills Leigh by snapping her neck, while Billy kills a hospital employee. 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 stairway, where Kelli pushes Billy down the stairs where he is impaled on the tip of a Christmas tree, killing him.
- 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
- Oliver Hudson as Kyle Autry
- Karin Konoval as Mrs. 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 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."
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.
- "BLACK CHRISTMAS (15)". Pathé Distribution. British Board of Film Classification. November 21, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "Black Christmas (2006) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Christian groups fume over Black Christmas.". Boston Herald. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
- "MPAA Ratings Updates". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- "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.
- "Los Angeles Times Movie Review". Retrieved 2000-07-11.
- "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, [Censored] [Censored], 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.
- Official website
- Black Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- Black Christmas at Box Office Mojo
- Black Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes
- Black Christmas at Metacritic