Black Christmas (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sophia Takal|
|Based on||Black Christmas|
by A. Roy Moore
|Edited by||Jeff Betancourt|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$18.5 million|
Black Christmas is a 2019 American slasher film directed by Sophia Takal, and written by Takal and April Wolfe. Part of the Black Christmas series, it is the loose second remake of the 1974 Canadian film Black Christmas, after the 2006 film, and follows a group of sorority sisters at Hawthorne College as they are preyed upon by an unknown stalker. The film stars Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O'Grady, Caleb Eberhardt, and Cary Elwes.
Development of the project began in June 2019, when Jason Blum announced that he would produce the film through his studio Blumhouse Productions. On the same day, Sophia Takal was announced as director and co-writer, and principal photography began soon after, lasting for 27 days in New Zealand.
Black Christmas was theatrically released in the United States on December 13, 2019 by Universal Pictures, coinciding with Friday the 13th. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who criticized its deviation from the original film's story, its familiar themes, and its PG-13 rating, but praised Poots' performance and called it an improvement over the 2006 remake. It grossed $18 million worldwide on a $5 million budget.
While walking home, Hawthorne College student Lindsay is impaled with an icicle by a masked individual. The rest of Hawthorne College is preparing for the Christmas holiday break. Riley Stone, a student at the College's Mu Kappa Epsilon (ΜΚΕ) sorority, is still struggling to move on from being raped by Delta Kappa Omicron (DKO) fraternity president Brian Huntley. Her sorority sisters Kris, Marty, Jesse, and Helena are taking part in the DKO talent show. Kris has drawn the ire of the DKO fraternity and Professor Gelson following a petition from her requesting that university founder and notorious misogynist Calvin Hawthorne's bust be moved from the main building and another requesting Gelson be fired due to his refusal to teach books written by women. Riley learns that Brian will be back in town to oversee the talent show.
The group arrives at the DKO fraternity where Riley catches a glimpse of a strange ritual involving new pledges for DKO and black goo leaking out of the Calvin Hawthorne bust. She stumbles across Helena about to be sexually assaulted by one of the frat boys, saves her, and takes Helena's place in the talent show. Upon seeing Brian in the crowd, she performs a song with her sorority sisters blasting the rape culture at the fraternity and stating that Brian raped her. Meanwhile, Helena is abducted by Lindsey's attacker. The girls start to receive threatening DMs from a Calvin Hawthorne account similar to what Lindsey had received before she was murdered. Sorority sister Fran is killed by the masked man. Riley has a strange encounter with Gelson, where she finds a list of the MKE girls among his papers.
Jesse is murdered, her body left in the attic. Riley, Kris, and Marty are attacked by an assailant who injures Marty. Kris discovers Jesse's body while Marty's boyfriend Nate arrives and is also murdered. Riley kills the masked man but the girls are attacked by two other masked men. Marty dies while Riley and Kris kill the attacker. They remove his mask after being alarmed that they are covered in black goo instead of blood. Riley identifies him as an DKO pledge she saw at the ritual.
The pair escape in Nate's car and Riley theorizes that Hawthorne, who was known for dabbling in black magic, is responsible for the killings via his bust and the black goo. Kris suggests they go to the police but Riley demands they go to the fraternity to fight. They argue and separate. Riley enlists Landon, a frat boy who likes her, to help her enter the fraternity. Kris discovers Lindsey's sorority sisters also being attacked by other DKO pledges and rescues them. At the DKO house, the frat brothers convince Landon to be a pledge. Riley discovers Helena, who is tied up but alive. Riley is then knocked unconscious by a DKO member.
She awakens to find herself tied up to a chair and is confronted by Gelson, Brian, and the other frat boys. Gelson explains that after Kris forced the bust's relocation, they discovered Hawthorne's plan, involving a spell and the black goo, to keep unruly women in check. The goo allows the spirit of Hawthorne to possess the fraternity's pledges and send them out to murder women who step out of line. It is revealed that Helena has been secretly working with the fraternity and stole items from her sisters that allowed the possessed pledges to locate their targets. One of the pledges murders Helena despite her willingness to be a "good woman" to the frat. Kris and Lindsey's surviving sorority sisters enter and fight the fraternity. Riley overpowers Brian and smashes the Hawthorne bust. Kris sets Gelson on fire and the women and Landon escape, locking the frat brothers inside and leaving them to burn to death.
In a mid-credit scene, the cat that was the MKE sisters' pet licks the black liquid.
- Imogen Poots as Riley Stone
- Aleyse Shannon as Kris Waterson
- Lily Donoghue as Marty Coolidge
- Brittany O'Grady as Jesse Bolton-Sinclair
- Caleb Eberhardt as Landon
- Cary Elwes as Professor Gelson
- Madeleine Adams as Helena Rittenhouse
- Ben Black as Phil McIllaney
- Simon Mead as Nate
- Nathalie Morris as Franny Abrams
- Zoë Robins as Oona Apteao
- Ryan McIntyre as Brian Huntley
- Mark Neilson as Gil O'Leary
- Lucy Currey as Lindsey Helman
In June 2019, it was announced that Jason Blum would produce a remake of the 1974 film Black Christmas through his studio Blumhouse Productions, alongside Adam Hendricks from the studio Divide/Conquer, and Ben Cosgrove. In addition, Greg Gilreath and Zac Locke, also from Divide/Conquer, served as executive producers for the project.
Also, in June, Sophia Takal was announced as the film's director, having previously worked with Blum on his Into the Dark series for Hulu, while Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Brittany O'Grady, Lily Donoghue, and Caleb Eberhardt were cast in the starring roles. Also that month, Cary Elwes was added to the cast.
Director Takal worked extensively to make this vision of Black Christmas as feminist as she could, stating in an interview, "I wanted to make a movie where instead of feeling objectified or watched from a distance, the audience felt seen." It is the first Black Christmas film in which Bob Clark was not involved in the production process, as Clark had died in 2007. Bob Clark had produced and directed the original Black Christmas (1974), and had been an executive producer on the 2006 remake of the same name.
Unlike the previous two version of Black Christmas, the remake was rated PG-13 by the MPAA, a rating Takal sought in hopes of making it accessible to new audiences, especially young women who were interested in horror, and opening up discussions on major issues like sexual assault, although she was ready to fully commit to utilizing the higher R rating if the ratings board would not grant it. However, she would not use the PG-13 rating to water down the film's violence to a large degree, making it only slightly less violent than the original film.
Production began in New Zealand on June 23, 2019. Principal photography occurred for 27 days around Dunedin and Oamaru, with the University of Otago providing the setting. Filming concluded on July 31, 2019.
Black Christmas grossed $10.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $8.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $18.5 million.
In the United States, the film was released alongside Jumanji: The Next Level, and Richard Jewell, and was initially projected to gross $10–12 million from 2,100 theaters in its opening weekend. However, after making $1.4 million on its first day (including $230,000 from Thursday night previews), estimates for the film were lowered to $4.5 million. It ended up debuting to just $4.2 million, finishing fifth at the box office. The film fell 57% to $1.8 million in its second weekend, finishing in tenth.
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On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 38% based on 109 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Better than the 2006 remake yet not as sharp as the original, this Black Christmas stabs at timely feminist themes but mostly hits on familiar pulp." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100 based on reviews from 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an "awful" average 1.5 out of 5 stars, with 38% saying they would definitely recommend it.
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