Black Christmas (2006 film)
||This article is incomplete. (November 2014)|
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|
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, Crystal Lowe, 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.
The film starts at Delta Alpha Kappa, a sorority house preparing for the holiday season. One of the girls, Clair Crosby (Leela Savasta) is seen in her bedroom writing Christmas cards when she hears a noise in her closet. She investigates, but it turns out to be the air conditioner in her room. She sits back down on her bed to finish writing a card for her sister when an unseen figure suddenly throws a trash bag over head and stabs her in the eye with a pen. Meanwhile, at a local asylum, a guard is going to check on William Edward Billy Lenz, a notorious serial killer that butchered his family on Christmas 15 years prior. He finds a note from Billy stating that he will be home for Christmas. Billy then kills him with a sharpened candy cane, slaughters a mall Santa, and escapes the asylum.
Back at the house, we are introduced to the rest of the girls: Kelli Presley (Katie Cassidy), Dana Mathis (Lacey Chabert), Lauren Hannon (Crystal Lowe), Megan Helms (Jessica Harmon), Heather Lee-Fitzgerald (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Melissa Kitt (Michelle Trachtenberg), and Eve Agnew (Kathleen Kole), as well as their housemother Mrs. Mac (Andrea Martin). They are all trapped in the house for Christmas due to a severe blizzard, so they are passing the time by opening up Christmas presents, with the exception of Megan, who is angry because a sex tape of her and her ex-boyfriend Kyle Autry (Oliver Hudson), who is also Kelli's current boyfriend, has been posted online. She suddenly hears noises in the ceiling. Thinking it's one of the girls messing with her, she decides to investigate in the attic, where she sees Clair's dead body, the bag still on her head, propped up in a rocking chair by the window. Megan is then attacked with a trash bag and has her eyes ripped out.
Downstairs, it is revealed that it is a Delta Alpha Kappa tradition to buy a Christmas present for Billy Lenz, who used to live in the house before it became a sorority. After Heather tells them that she drew his name but she refused to go along with the tradition, Mrs. Mac tells them Billy's story: he was a boy in the early 70's who was born with severe jaundice due to a liver disease, and was constantly abused by his hateful mother. After murdering Billy's father with a trash bag and a hammer and then burying his body in the underground crawlspace with the help of her boyfriend, Mrs. Lenz locked Billy in the attic to prevent him from talking. Years later, she attempted to conceive a new baby but realized that her new man is impotent. She went up to the attic and raped 12-year-old Billy. Nine months later, a daughter named Agnes was born and treated like a princess by Mrs. Lenz. When Agnes was eight and Christmas came around, Billy escaped from the attic and disfigured Agnes by attacking her with a trash bag and gouging out her eye, eating it, and taunting his mother, saying "she's my family now." Billy then gruesomely killed her lover with a Christmas ornament through the head, and then strangled her with the Christmas lights, beat her dead body with a rolling pin, and made Christmas cookies out of her flesh. The police later arrived, finding Agnes still alive with her eye missing, and Billy eating his Christmas cookies, who was then sent to the mental asylum.
Back in present day, the girls get two mysterious and threatening phone calls from an unknown person. When a drunk Lauren provokes him, he tells them he's gonna kill them and hangs up. Melissa tries to report the scary calls, but the lines are temporarily dead. They then find out that the calls came from, respectively, Clair and Megan's cell phones. Kyle then arrives at the house through Megan's open bedroom window, scaring Kelli and Heather. He claims that he wants to be with Kelli for Christmas, but they begin to very heatedly argue when they investigate the missing Megan's bedroom and Kelli sees the sex tape on Megan's laptop. Back downstairs, Clair's half-sister Leigh (Kristen Cloke) soon arrives searching for her. The group finds a present under the Christmas tree to Delta Alpha Kappa from Billy. They open it, and it contains the doll Mrs. Lenz gave Agnes the night the murders happened. Heather suspects that Eve is behind it, due to her strange disappearance earlier and rumors that she may be obsessed with Billy due to her living in his old room. While investigating in Eve's room, Heather finds a huge portrait of Billy on her wall, as well as newspaper clippings of the murders and Megan's cell phone in her closet.
Meanwhile, Lauren starts puking due to excessive drinking, and Kelli and Kyle's argument worsens to the point where she dumps him and he leaves. Melissa has Lauren take a shower before she puts her to bed. Billy is then seen stalking her during her shower through a loose tile in the bathroom floor, but Lauren doesn't notice this. When the lights suddenly go out, Leigh tells Dana to go outside to the crawlspace, where the main fuse box is. Then, the killer, as well as the newly arrived Billy, begin to kill the girls one by one: Dana encounters the figure under the house and is killed with a gardening tool to the head; The others go to look for her outside after receiving a threatening call from her cell phone, where Heather and Leigh find Eve's decapitated head in her car; When the police can't do anything due to the storm, Heather and Mrs. Mac immediately attempt to escape to the police station, but while Mrs. Mac is outside getting the ice off her windshield, Heather is subsequently killed while inside the car, and a terrified Mrs. Mac is stabbed through the head by a falling icicle; When Kelli and Leigh descend to the garage to investigate, Melissa is attacked by the killer with a trash bag. She escapes the bag and tries to get away from the killer through a window in one of the bedrooms, but the killer throws an ice skate and scalps her; Lauren is then molested by Billy in bed before being killed as well by being stabbed with a glass unicorn figurine by Agnes.
After finding Mrs. Mac's blood splatters leaking through the garage door, Kelli and Leigh go back inside the house only to find Lauren dead with her eyes gouged out and Melissa missing. Kyle then arrives, claiming he is not the killer. The three climb to the attic, where Kyle is smothered with a trash bag before being dragged into the attic and stabbed in the head. After the two girls find Clair's body in the rocking chair, as well as a Christmas tree decorated with Megan, Eve, and Melissa's bodies, limbs, and eyes, the killer is revealed to be Agnes, now an adult. Leigh soon falls through the attic floor, and after a brawl between Kelli and Agnes, knocking over some candles and starting a fire, Billy also makes his way into the attic, and Agnes and Kelli both fall in between the walls. Billy crawls into the space between the walls, and Kelli finds herself trapped between the two killers. She bangs on the walls, attracting Leigh's attention. Leigh grabs a dumbbell, races to the laundry room, and uses it to smash a large hole in the wall, allowing her to pull Kelli out and for them both to escape as the house burns down.
Later, Kelli and Leigh recover at the hospital. Leigh emotionally opens up Clair's present for her in front of Kelli, and it turns out to be a watch with the words FAMILY FOREVER imprinted on it. Unknown to them, Billy and Agnes are still alive. Billy kills a morgue attendant with a motorized surgical saw, and when Kelli leaves for an x-ray, Agnes appears, attacks Leigh and breaks her neck. When Kelli returns to her room, she finds the bloody watch. Immediately realizing something's wrong, she hits the emergency button, but nobody notices the monitor blinking due to Christmas carolers. Agnes then enters through the ceiling and attacks her as well but Kelli uses the defibrillator on Agnes's face and kills her; 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 over the edge 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 Mrs. Barbara MacHenry
- Crystal Lowe as Lauren Hannon
- Oliver Hudson as Kylerick "Kyle" Autry
- Karin Konoval as Bernardette Lenz
- Dean Friss as Agnes Lenz
- Robert Mann as William "Billy" Lenz
- Jessica Harmon as Megan Helms
- Leela Savasta as Clair Crosby
- Kathleen Kole as Evangeline "Eve" Agnew
- Howard Siegel as Beauregard Rice (Billy's stepfather)
- Peter Wilds as Franklin "Frank" Lenz
- Michael Adamthwaite as Mall Santa
- Ron Selmour as Security Guard
- Jody Racicot as Morgue Attendant
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 Katie Cassidy playing Kelli, Michelle Trachtenberg playing Melissa, Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Heather, Lacey Chabert playing Dana, and Crystal Lowe playing Lauren. Winstead was later nominated for a Scream Award for her portrayal of Heather Lee-Fitzgerald. 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." Film historian Michael 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. 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 Dana finding a girl (not actually in the movie) trapped underneath a frozen pond, Dana falling off the roof entangled in Christmas lights and being dragged into a mechanical Christmas lights generator, Melissa in a dark hallway with a flashlight while Billy levitates on the ceiling ready to strike with a hatchet, and a scene in one of the TV spots where the doorbell to the sorority house rings, and Melissa answers it holding a shotgun yelling Merry Fucking Christmas!. There was also a line that didn't make it into the film, where during the first scary phone call from Billy and Agnes, Billy says All is calm, all is bright. Who is in my house tonight?. 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.
US vs. UK version
There are some noticeable changes between the UK and the R-rated US versions of Black Christmas. For instance, there are two extra shots during Clair's opening scene murder in the US version: one of Agnes hiding under her bed, and another of Agnes wielding Clair's pen right before stabbing her. During the murder of Billy's prison guard, right after Billy stabs him in the jugular vein with the candy cane, there is one last shot of the guard bleeding from his neck while Billy exits his cell. This shot is not seen in the UK version.
A major thing to know is that Melissa has two different death scenes: In the original US version, she is attacked with a trash bag while in the hallway investigating screams and she escapes, but then has the top of her head sliced off by a pair of ice skates that the killer flings towards as she is trying to escape through the window, but in the UK version, she doesn't escape the plastic bag, but simply falls to the ground and has her eyeballs pulled out (similarly to Megan's death scene) and eaten, before Agnes drags her away by her empty eye sockets. In the US version however, a shot of Agnes eating her eye is used during the scene where Kelli and Leigh are being pursued in the attic. In the US version, there is a scene where Billy and Agnes sneak into Lauren's room while Kelli and Leigh are in the garage and after they have killed Melissa, where Billy molests her under the covers before she wakes up, realizes what's happening, tries to stab him with a unicorn toy but misses, and then has the weapon taken away from her by Agnes, who proceeds to strangle her and then stab her in the face with it. This scene is cut completely from the UK version and her death scene is just Kelli, Kyle, and Leigh finding her corpse afterwards. Another notable difference is that in the UK cut, all of the scary calls from Billy and Agnes are completely different from the US cut and slightly creepier.
For the original US ending, Kelli and Leigh open up Clair's present that had been intended for Leigh, which turns out to be a watch. Meanwhile, Billy and Agnes both survive the fire in the sorority house and kill the doctor who is examining the bodies at the hospital. They make their way to Kelli and Leigh's ward, where Kelli leaves for an x-ray, and Leigh soon hears footsteps in the ceiling and investigates in the hallway. When Leigh returns to the room, Agnes disguises herself as Kelli and suddenly springs up from the hospital bed and kills her with a neck snap. When Kelli returns to the ward after getting her x-rays done, 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, while the severely burnt Billy dies on his hospital bed as a group of doctors attempt to re-animate him. In the morgue, Leigh discovers that the body is not of Agnes, but Clair's. She returns to her and Kelli's room to notify her, where Agnes, disguised as Kelli, quickly breaks her neck and kills her. Kelli then returns to the room, where she is attacked as well, but manages to kill Agnes with defibrillators. Later, Kelli's parents arrive and bring her home.
The US unrated DVD special features include several deleted and alternate scenes and endings. For example, there is a deleted opening scene that shows POV shots of most likely Agnes watching some of the girls (particularly Lauren, Megan, and Clair) in their rooms on their phones and drinking wine, and then shows POV shots of Agnes roaming the attic ready to sneak out. A few unimportant deleted scenes include Kelli, Melissa, and Dana talking about ringtones, Dana receiving a large dildo as a Christmas present from Lauren, Lauren, Dana, and Mrs. Mac discussing suspicions about Kyle and Eve (which ends with Lauren puking all over the table due to drinking too much tequila), and an extended version of the scene where the girls receive the scary phone call from the now-dead Dana's cell phone. There is an alternate death scene for Lauren where Agnes sneaks into her room and puts a snow globe on her desk, and then wakes her up and stabs her with the unicorn toy. This feature also includes three alternate endings: in the first one, Kelli and Leigh talk in the hospital before Kelli receives a call from the dead Kyle's cell phone, implying that either Agnes or Billy is still alive. The second is the ending used in the UK version, and the third is the same as the UK ending only after Kelli and her parents leave, instead of the film ending right there, it cuts to two doctors discussing the fact that Billy's body is missing. We then see Billy, still alive and well, watching them through an air conditioning vent.
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- Black Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- Black Christmas at Box Office Mojo
- Black Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes
- Black Christmas at Metacritic