This review is brought to you by the letter B. B for Black Christmas, the second remake of the 1974 cult favorite; following the 2006 entry, which for the record, while it is flawed, I think it’s entertaining. B for Blumhouse Productions, the hitmaking horror company behind the title. B for Betancourt, Jeff Betancourt, the editor, who creates confusing geography and continuity errors in almost every scene. B for befuddlement over this film’s target demographic. B for bad, which this most definitely is.
This latest incarnation of the film that started the slasher genre follows Riley (Imogen Poots), a student at Hawthorne College, as she prepares for the winter break. She, along with fellow MKE sisters Kris (Aleyse Shannon), Jesse (Brittany O’Grady), and Marty (Lily Donoghue), are set to perform a holiday show at the founder’s fraternity, DKO. In attendance is Brian, who sexually assaulted Riley three years ago. This understandably makes her quite anxious about the performance, though her interactions with the sweet Landon (Caleb Eberhardt) give Riley some hope.
The MKE performance was not what DKO expected, and it angered them. Now, the women of MKE are being pursued by people in dark robes and a creepy mask. Add on the weird, creepy direct messages they are all receiving from Calvin Hawthorne, the long-dead founder of the school, and everyone is understandably on edge. Is this just a revenge prank gone too far? Or do these hooded fellows have something more sinister in mind?
“…the women of MKE are being pursued by people in dark robes and a creepy mask…a revenge prank gone too far? Or…something more sinister in mind?”
While that plot description is slightly inaccurate (Riley substitutes in on the DKO song/ dance number), it also does not nearly explain every plot thread or subplot going on in this overstuffed yet undercooked exercise in tedium. Kris is an intense activist, who has a petition circulating to get Professor (Carey Elwes) fired because his curriculum does not include any women of color. Yes, this is the moment in the film that strains the most credibility. Given the strange and stupid places the story meanders to, that is quite a feat.
The first problem is that Sophia Takal and April Wolfe’s screenplay is awful. For starters, every character sounds, more or less, the same. I do not mean that the actors, who are all trying, all have similar voices. It is that the dialogue, no matter who is speaking, sounds like it could be from any one of the sorority sisters. There is no difference between how Riley speaks or how Jesse or Marty talk. Of course, this is indicative of a larger problem in the script.
All these characters have one trait and no personality. Riley is quiet and a survivor of sexually assault. Kris over politicizes absolutely everything. Marty and Jesse, aside from how the actors look, I am not sure they had any notable differences. This extends to the male characters as well. Landon is shy but kind. All the DKO members are dude-bro, jock jerks.
"…states matter of factly what every slasher film with a final girl has been dealing with via subtext."