One of the best months on the blog, and we’re off with a bang—or, rather, quite a few swings of the axe and several stabs. Once again, the month of December is brought to you by Christmas horror and the occasional made-for-tv Hallmark cheese tray.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Witnessing the murder of your parents may result in your transformation into Batman…or a serial killer who dresses as Santa.
Christmas Eve, 1971. And so our troubles begin. It’s certainly going to be a memorable Christmas for Billy, who is off with his family to visit his grandfather. The catch is dear old granddad is in a psychiatric ward, and seems to have been in a vegetative state for many years. Conveniently, he becomes lucid for just long enough to traumatize Billy about the nature of Santa Claus as a vindictive old asshole who punishes bad children. Upsetting, but not insurmountable, yeah?
Give it 5 minutes.
After leaving the psychiatric care facility, Billy’s parents notice a man dressed as Santa whose car has broken down on the road. In the spirit of Christmas, the family pulls over to help Santa, which turns out to be a serious mistake. This Santa is an armed robber who proceeds to murder the entire family. Billy and his younger brother, Jimmy, manage to survive albeit with deep psychological damage.
Things are going to get better from here on out for Billy, you might think. Though raised in an orphanage by nuns, one of the sisters recognizes his trauma and tries to help him. She realizes Christmas is a major trigger for Billy, who suffers from PTSD after witnessing the murder of his parents.
Unfortunately, Mother Superior is less than sympathetic and decides to take a page from the how-to guide for raising a child who has experienced trauma in the way most likely to yield a disturbed, troubled adult destined to become a serial killer. She hits Billy with a belt after he joins the other children for playtime outside without permission, ties him to the bed when he has horrible nightmares, and forces him to sit on Santa’s lap at Christmas.
In spite of this, Billy grows up to be a relatively mild-mannered, polite young man as evidenced by a very ‘80s inspired montage. He gets a job working in a toy store, which he enjoys but can only end in terrible tragedy once December rolls around. Noticing a change in Billy, his supervisor sensitively yells at him about being triggered by Christmas and pushes him to do better. Oh, sir. You’re not going to live for much longer, are you?
Inevitably, Billy is forced to play the role of Santa for children who visit the store, and is approximately as comfortable with this role as I would be, i.e. not at all. Already close to the breaking point, Billy completely loses it when his supervisor kisses and then assaults Billy’s coworker crush. No one at the store has a particularly great time at the Christmas party.
After ruining the staff Christmas party, Billy decides to spread holiday cheer elsewhere in increasingly gruesome ways. To his credit, he does leave the family cat alone. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his final confrontation is with Mother Superior. Who will make it to the New Year’s party in time to become the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop murderer?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
First off, there are a lot of gaping plot holes that are incredibly distracting. Like, after finding a kid wandering through the woods near a murder scene, no one thought counseling might be a good idea??? And did no one think it would be helpful for the nuns to know about Billy’s incredibly disturbing childhood trauma?
Beyond the plot holes, there is way too much time spent on Billy’s horrific childhood for this to be a satisfying slasher. At the end, I was just sad after seeing Billy’s continuous victimization throughout his life. It’s difficult not to feel some sympathy for him when we know a great deal about the trauma he suffered at the hands of the murderer and the sadistic Mother Superior.
Overall, it’s like a less successful version of Psycho with way more boobs.