- Directed by Sophia Takal
- December 13, 2019 (US)
A college sorority is being stalked and killed by masked and robed individuals around Christmas.
Black Christmas 2019 is an example of what happens when you make a message film and wield that message like a sledgehammer. There is nothing wrong with a message film or a message film that is also a horror film, but this movie beat you over the head with that message so severely that you are essentially being lectured to for the duration of the film. Who likes to be lectured to?
There are plenty of message films I enjoy even if I do not necessarily agree with the particular message being conveyed. Why? Because they do not shove your face in the message or berate you in the narrative. The film is not a lecture first and a film second. Here the message overrides constructing a good story and winning over the audience.
The characters are unlikable. I mean all of them to the point of being in sufferable. After a bit you are hoping they get killed and you do not care how. You can have unlikeable characters but there needs to be something that gets you to care about their fates in a way that is not connected to a thought like “Can we just get this over with?”
The sorority girls remind me of every shallow individual I have ever met that is desperately trying to be deep, but they have no substance to them to go deeper than the surface image presented. These are shallow husks of individuals that only have their daily irritations or their randomly chosen cause to fill the emptiness they have inside.
Every male character that a woman encounters in this story is a jerk or just greatly insensitive. The longer this film goes on the less it is a message movie and the more it is a look inside the creative minds of those that made it and how they see the world. No single group is this universally empty or terrible and if you view things as such you need to take a look at yourself.
They add a lot to the concept here to the point this is not similar to the 2006 remake or the 1974 original. They slapped the Black Christmas name on a product unrelated to, well, anything. Other than the title the plot has no connection to the 1974 original film though they do drop in a reference to that with the address of the sorority house here.
Now rather than just a random killer or killers as in the ’06 film, it becomes some supernatural plot by men to go after women. It is a bunch of frat boys using black magic because they feel their masculinity is being attacked. Where was any of that suggested in any previous iteration? The goal of a remake, if one must be made, should be to do better than the original. Every film, even those considered classics, have flaws but the lack of a supernatural element was not a flaw with the earlier films.
Here the threat dates back to some sexist founding member of the college who also had supernatural abilities and I guess that is the justification in this poorly done message horror film to remove all statues because they might have been sexist and racist individuals with supernatural abilities. I guess. After being beat over the head with it the film’s message I kind of lost interest.
Message films can certainly have extraordinary elements. Star Trek IV had an environmental message. Tron had themes of religion and an oppressive government. George Romero (though I admit to not seeing it) tried to infuse his Living Dead films with themes of classism. What these movies all have in common is that they did not beat you over the head with their message but rather wrapped it up in a story and lead you to it. They did not try to force it down your throat. One is a way of convincing. The other is a way of lecturing and when you are lecture you tend to lose the battle because nobody likes to be lectured to.
Part of what worked about the original film as well as the first remake is that everybody was trapped in the sorority house. Getting out and getting help was almost impossible. It helps to elevate the level of tension as well as make the outcome more satisfying. Here the sorority sisters are not really trapped and are able to mount an assault on the frat boys.
Black Christmas 2019 is much less a horror film and more like one long lecture. As a message horror film, it is blunt and often contrived. As a remake it does nothing to improve upon the original or its remake. You can certainly skip this one.