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Michelle Trachtenberg

Michelle Trachtenberg - "Black Christmas" Movie - Ign.com Review


Friday 22 December 2006, by Webmaster

Works better as a comedy than horror.

A remake of the 1974 horror cult classic, Black Christmas has been brought back to the silver screen courtesy of Glen Morgan (Willard, The X-Files). The movie features a bevy of hot young actresses, a streak of black comedy and more than a few grisly death scenes that almost make up for the fact that the film’s very existence is completely unnecessary.

The premise is simple enough. Trapped inside their sorority house by a snowstorm, six sorority sisters - Kelli (Katie Cassidy), Dana (Lacey Chabert), Lauren (Crystal Lowe), Megan (Jessica Harmon), Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg) and their house mother (Andrea Martin, who was also in the original film) - aim to spend a quiet Christmas Eve together. But it turns out someone who used to live in the house has returned and he’s none too happy about its new inhabitants.

The house was once lived in by Billy who, as a child, was abused by his embittered mother. Imprisoned in the attic for years, Billy escapes on Christmas Day to brutally avenge himself upon his mother, her lover and the new daughter who is receiving all the love and adoration Billy never did. Confined to an asylum ever since the slayings, Billy’s whole life revolves around Christmas. Now Billy has escaped and makes his way home. But it turns out that he will not be terrorizing these poor women alone.

Although the girls are receiving creepy phone calls and begin to go missing, the police can’t respond due to the storm. The girls are picked off one by one by the unseen killer lurking inside the house. He hides inside the walls, the attic - he is seemingly everywhere. He sees them when they’re sleeping (and showering), he knows when they’re awake. He knows when they’ve been bad (booze and cyber-porn, baby!) or good but, well, he’s going to kill them regardless.

Kelli finds herself in the role of the leader, which is odd since she’s essentially the new girl in the house. She refuses to run when they have the chance (or when they think they have the chance) and finds the courage to fight back against Billy and his accomplice.

While there are a handful of memorable kills in Black Christmas, the film works best as a black comedy in the vein of the Scream movies. The girls’ barbs at each other are as pointed as any of the killer’s weapons. Morgan seems to understand the inherently cheesy nature of the whole affair and relishes in poking fun at the "killer in the house" sub-genre.

Although the trend may have begun with Kill Bill, this year will undoubtedly go down in film history as the year of the eyeball. Between this movie, See No Evil and Hostel (even the venerable HBO western Deadwood got in on the act), the quota for eyeballs being gouged out (and/or being collected or consumed) has been more than filled. Please, Hollywood, enough! It’s not scary now; it’s just become a gross stock shock. Alas, Black Christmas isn’t content at just eyeballs ... cookies anyone?

Black Christmas works best as a campy deconstruction of the genre than it does as a horror film. Morgan seems to have understood this, which explains why he went for the yuks as well as the yucks.