If you follow my Patreon, you know I recently took a look at what I consider more of a re-imagining of Black Christmas from 2019. It got me thinking about the 2006 remake, which I had not seen, so I decided to give it a shot. The 2006 version is much more in line with remaking the story of the original, while the 2019 went in its own direction, for better or worse.
Black Christmas both tells the story of the sorority girls and their night of horror, as well as the backstory for the infamous killer, Billy. We start with our cold opening death of one of the girls, then move to an insane asylum where we are briefly introduced to Billy, who killed his family on Christmas and ate part of his mother. From there, we go back to the sorority house and see the rest of the girls hanging out for their Christmas Eve gift exchange. The house mother is desperately looking for Billy’s gift for the exchange, which is pretty… unnerving? Distasteful? Not a great tradition? Billy breaks out of the hospital terrifyingly easily, and things start to get worse for the girls.
The story plays out with the girls getting terrifying phone calls and being picked off one by one. While this is happening, we get flashbacks of Billy, a baby born with yellow skin due to liver disease, and a mother who hates him. One night she and her lover kill Billy’s father, and from then on, Billy lives his life in the attic. His mother assaults him one night and becomes pregnant. As the years pass, Billy’s hate over the rejection from the family finally causes him to snap. He attacks his… sister, let’s go with sister, and kills his stepfather and mother, and then eats some of his mother’s flesh.
After most of the girls are picked off, we get a bit of a twist from the story, although not entirely unforeseen, and our final girl makes her final stand.
It is not the best story in a slasher flick, but not the worst. Unlike the original, this one does give us more of a clue as to why the killer is that way, but it’s a bit much. I think some of the details, very specifically Billy being his sister’s father, could have been left out. The rejection story and the desire to be connected with his sister could have remained without it. I am also not a fan of a lot of exposition done via flashbacks. The way they set up these flashbacks is also a little hamfisted.
The part with the actual girls being hunted is also a little shaky. For the most part, it plays out well enough, although the lack of anybody being able to tell something is happening for a few of them seems a bit unrealistic. They will notice the killer moving around at points but not notice outright fights with him. Eventually, though, we get the one death that triggers the knowledge that something is happening, and from there, the pacing and action play out much better.
This is a mid-2000s horror remake, though. It has a lot of the hallmarks that we are used to seeing from them. It tries to expand the story, for the better or worse in each case, really ramps up the gore to nearing goreporn, and adding in scenes simply for the sake of being gratuitous. Bitchy girls (boo), and more about shock than suspense. However, it is not the worst of these remakes. For all of their fighting with each other, the girls do seem actually pretty loyal. Not only that, but I noted that 2019 made a point of saying that the girls were strong but failing to show it in many instances, whereas in this movie, the girls are pretty kickass. They make a few dumb choices and mistakes, it’s a horror movie, after all, but for the most part, they aren’t easy to pick off because they fight back and very nearly make it. Despite them not having the best or most developed personalities and the weakness of the story, I found myself really rooting for them because of their efforts.
This movie is also much more of a remake, as I said. 2019 uses the idea of sorority girls being hunted at Christmas with a handful of nods. This movie leans in a lot more. The phone calls, the way the house mother says Billy in that creepy tone, kill methods, and overall tone.
I also appreciate that it brings in the thing that made the 1974 movie so unsettling, that he is in the house with them, and they don’t know it, but the audience does. Now this one is set in one night, so it all unfolds a lot faster, which downplays a bit of that horror, but I still like that concept, it’s scary as hell, even if the movie did not bring that many frights.
Bottom line? The story and pacing suffer at various points in the story, and the gratuitousness I am shaky about. However, it is a remake of the times, and I actually think one of the better ones. I like this era of slashers if for no other reason than the “feel” of them brings a bit of nostalgia for me. Now I didn’t see this one in the past, but it still had those moments where I was transported back a bit. I also appreciate it is from a time when having a horror movie on your resume was still pretty common. Most of the people in this are ones I recognize from a lot of other things, and as I age, I get that feeling less, naturally, so back to the personal nostalgia. It is kind of slasher trash, though, and not intentionally. It is weaker than what it was going for but still a solid experience. I would recommend it to slasher fans, and might not to fans of the horror genre but not specifically that subgenre.
Merry Christmas, Billy!
What about you? Which of the three is your favorite? Is this a remake you care for? Let me know below.