Sunday, December 17, 2017
13 Days of Christmas Day 5: Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) 1h 19m
One of the quintessential holiday horror films, along with Black Christmas and a few others I'm going to cover on here, Silent Night Deadly Night seems to be the most remembered. Since Thanksgiving has passed, images of this film have been plastered all over my social media feeds. My own personal aversion to Christmas kept me from watching this previously but no longer! I have joined the SNDN cult!
Silent Night Deadly Night focuses on a boy named Billy. His family visits his grandfather in a mental hospital where the grandfather secretly tells Billy that Santa will punish the boy for not being good all year. On their drive home the parents stop to help a man dressed as Santa on the side of the road. This Santa is some sort of lunatic criminal that kills the father and then rips open the shirt of the mother before he cuts her throat. Billy hides but sees all of this and becomes ultra traumatized toward Santa Claus. He and his baby brother are then taken to an orphanage run by nuns where the Mother Superior has incredibly old-fashioned (even for the time) views of child psychology and corporal punishment. As if Billy weren't fucked up enough, she just makes it worse. Finally, in the "present day" of the film, Billy has a job at a toy store where he ends up playing the store Santa. After a few drinks at the holiday party and walking into an attempted rape by one of his co-workers, Billy has a flashback and then just goes on a murderous rampage.
I'm sure that when this film was being written they were just looking for plot reasons to have Billy snap. The thing that floored me with Silent Night Deadly Night was the fact that from a psychological point of view everything makes sense. The initial trauma toward Santa based on real life events, the fear of punishment for being "naughty," the aversion to sex and the association of violence with it and the baring of the female body, these are all relevant reasons for Billy's emotional response. Granted, this is an extreme expression of it, but the inclusion of alcohol (which he had no previous experience with) would lead to a lowering of inhibitions. The only thing is once he started, he just didn't stop.
With that analysis out of the way, I liked Silent Night Deadly Night. It's dated, but for someone like me it felt nostalgic. Seeing He-Man toys on a shelf or the weird inflatable bunny that everyone had for Easter let me go back to the 80's without an issue. I found myself only caring about Billy as far as the characters go. Though, with a holiday slasher, everyone is pretty much expendable. This movie also spawned a few sequels which I may watch at some point. However, if I take anything away from this movie, it's going to be just shouting "NAUGHTY!" at the cats when they misbehave.
I give Silent Night Deadly Night 4 ripped Santas out of 5: