Black Christmas (2006 film)
|This article is missing information about the film's production. (September 2015)|
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)
|Box office||$21.5 million|
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.
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 Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg) to discover blood splatters under the house, while Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Leigh 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
- Crystal Lowe as Lauren Hannon
- Kristen Cloke as Leigh Colvin
- Oliver Hudson as Kyle Autry
- Andrea Martin as Mrs. Barbara MacHenry
- Karin Konoval as Mrs. Constance Lenz (Billy's mother)
- Jessica Harmon as Megan Helms
- Leela Savasta as Clair Crosby
- Robert Mann as William "Billy" Lenz
- Dean Friss as Agnes Lenz
- Kathleen Kole as Eve Agnew
- Howard Siegel as Beauregard Rice (Billy's stepfather)
- Peter Wilds as 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), led 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 site's critical consensus reads: "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.
Sam Adams of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "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". 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." Jason Anderson of The Globe and Mail wrote, "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".
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 three out of five stars and wrote that the film should not be compared to the original. The site concluded that the film is "a pretty good modern slasher". 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 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
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- "Bloody Disgusting Horror - "Black Christmas (remake)" Movie Info, Review, Headlines, Gallery". Bloody-disgusting.com. 2006-12-25. Retrieved 2015-09-11.
- "Black Christmas film review". Radio Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.[dead link]
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- "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 Michael Gurnow (2006)". The Horror Review. 2006-12-15. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- Black Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- Black Christmas at Box Office Mojo
- Black Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes
- Black Christmas at Metacritic