"Black Christmas" (2007) A Horror Remake Done Right


The recent trend of remaking classic horror movies is hopefully on the decline, but not without leaving several horrible films in its wake.  Very few ever come close the original but with "Black Christmas" in 2007 the filmmakers did a good enough job not to embarrass themselves, and actually make a decent movie.

Taking place within a sorority house the day before Christmas break a group of girls and their house mother are terrorized by a former inhabitant named Billy Lenz.  Billy has quite the backstory and its told in flashbacks throughout the movie.  Its extremely disturbing and involves murder, incest, and all those beloved family pastimes.  Born with yellow skin and rejected by his psychotic mother, Billy lives most of his life locked in the attic.  As a teenager, Billy is raped by his mother and she has a baby girl.  When he finally gets out he kills his mother and makes Christmas cookies out of her skin (Yummy!!).  His sister disappears and Billy is caught and sent to a mental hospital.  Years later he escapes (naturally) and heads back home to the now sorority house.

The girls start receiving prank calls and one by one they start to disappear.  The story had been modernized from the original 1974 version. Cell phones play a big part, as well as computers.  Although the characters and killings do bear some resemblance to the original.  Like a lot of horror remakes, this is more of a re-imagining of the story rather than a shot for shot remake.  A lot of horror clich├ęs are used but are used effectively. The girls are pretty one dimensional and serve as victims quite well.  There is a big shock ending that makes you sort of rethink a lot of what you just saw.  Paying close attention to the flashbacks should help.  Unlike a lot of the recent remakes which water down the violence and gore to get a PG-13 rating  "Black Christmas" takes pleasure in making it R rated with gruesome kills and gory pieces all over.  The DVD includes a "making of" and Director's notebook features and is definitely worth a buy.  You can find used copies for very cheap all over the internet.  The original 1974 film is also available on DVD and Blu-ray and is essential viewing for all horror fans.