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|
93 minutes (Unrated cut)
|Box office||$21.5 million|
Black Christmas (abbreviated as Black X-Mas) is a 2006 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 the house's former inhabitants during a winter storm. It is a loose remake of the 1974 film of the same name. The film was produced by Morgan and James Wong through their production company Hard Eight Pictures, along with 2929 Productions and Dimension Films, while Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer distributed the film.
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 and was a moderate box office success by grossing $21.5 million total. It has a 14% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 22/100 rating on Metacritic.
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 twelve-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. He then taunts his terrified mother, saying "she's my family now," and gruesomely kills his mother and her lover. He is caught by the police eating cookies made out of his mother's flesh, and is sent to a mental asylum.
Fifteen years later, on Christmas Eve, Billy, now 35, escapes from his cell and heads off to his former home, now a sorority house. At the Delta Alpha Kappa, Clair Crosby is killed in her bedroom being suffocated with a plastic bag before being stabbed in the eye with a fountain pen. Meanwhile, Megan Helms 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, suffocated with a plastic bag before her eyes are ripped out. 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 Crosby-Colvin soon arrives searching for her. A suspicious Eve Agnew soon gives Heather Lee Fitzgerald a glass unicorn as a present before leaving the sorority house. When the lights suddenly go out, Dana Mathis goes to check the power under the house, but encounters the figure in the crawlspace and is dragged underneath and killed with a gardening tool stabbed in her head. The girls in the house receive a call from Dana's phone, and hear a scream. They leave the house to find her, only for Kelli Presley and Melissa Kitt to discover blood splatters under the house where Dana died, while Heather and Leigh find Eve decapitated in her car.
Heather and housemother Barbara MacHenry immediately flee, but Heather is subsequently killed while inside the car and Barbara is stabbed through the head by a falling icicle. When Kelli and Leigh descend to the garage to investigate, Melissa is attacked with a plastic bag before she escapes into her room, as she attempts to climb out the window the assailant throws a pair of ice skates, scalping her head. The killer then sneaks into a passed out drunk Lauren Hannon's room and gouges her eyes out. Kelli and Leigh then find Lauren's eyeless corpse in bed. Kelli's boyfriend Kyle Autry then arrives, claiming he is not the killer. The three climb to the attic, where Kyle is dragged into the attic and suffocated with a plastic bag before being stabbed in the head with a glass unicorn and having his eyes ripped out which the killer eats. The killer is revealed to be Agnes, now an adult. Billy, revealed to be a second killer, 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. A mortician opens up Billy's body bag, revealing that he has survived; he immediately kills the pathologist with a drill. Meanwhile, Kelli goes for an x-ray, and Agnes appears in the hospital unharmed and kills Leigh by snapping her neck. When Kelli returns to her room, she finds blood filling the fluorescent lights in the ceiling. Agnes then enters through the ceiling and attacks her as well, but Kelli uses the defibrillator to electrocute Agnes. Moments later, Billy enters through the ceiling and chases Kelli to the stairwell. Kelli ends up pushing Billy off, and he is subsequently impaled on the tip of a Christmas tree and finally dies. Kelli is left to look on in shock.
- Katie Cassidy as Kelli Presley
- Kristen Cloke as Leigh Crosby-Colvin
- Oliver Hudson as Kyle Autry
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Melissa Kitt
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Heather Lee-Fitzgerald
- Crystal Lowe as Lauren Hannon
- Lacey Chabert as Dana Mathis
- Andrea Martin as Barbara MacHenry
- Karin Konoval as Constance Lenz
- Dean Friss as Agnes Lenz
- Christina Crivici as Young Agnes
- Robert Mann as 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 Beauregard Rice
- Peter Wilds as Frank Lenz
- Ron Selmour as Security Guard
- Michael Adamthwaite as Asylum Santa
- Jody Racicot as Morgue Attendant
- Anne Marie DeLuise as Mrs. Presley
- Greg Kean as Mr. Presley
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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)."
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 holds a 14% approval 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.
Critical reaction tended to focus on the film's overt violence in comparison to the original film. 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." Thompson 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.
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." In a retrospective by Fangoria, Ken Hanley said the film "benefits from solid and focused direction" and "wears its cringeworthy elements as a badge of honor."
The film was released on DVD and HD DVD on April 15, 2007 by Genius Products. Two versions of the film were released: the R-rated theatrical cut, and the "unrated" cut, which featured extended and deleted scenes. Special features include two documentaries "What Have You Done? The Remaking of Black Christmas" and "May All Your Christmases Be Black" along with deleted scenes and 3 alternate endings (one of which is the UK ending used in its theatrical release). Although the film has yet to be released on Blu-ray in the U.S. it has received a release in Canada and Germany. The film had a short-print run in Canada and only contains the theatrical cut while the German release has both cuts of the film and is region-free.
The UK DVD release of the film contains an alternate death scene for Melissa Kitt along with the aforementioned alternate ending from the plot synopsis.
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.
|2007||Scream Awards||Scream Queen||Mary Elizabeth Winstead||Nominated|
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