While it is typically the new year that is reserved for reinvention, sometimes fresh identities can come out over the X-mas break. In 2019, Sophia Takal took the name of Black Christmas and adapted it to more modern audiences. Dealing with more modern issues and a newer storyline for the other half of the population, who may feel neglected by the current slasher market, in Black Christmas.
The protagonists of Black Christmas are all students at Hawthorne College, and members of the Mu Kappa Epsilon. Life for them is tricky enough, dealing with lecherous college professors and rowdy fraternities, and the academic pressures of the holiday season. That is until mysterious guys in robes start to harass the sorority members, going to the extreme while picking members off one by one. To stop these brutal attacks, the members of the Mu Kappa Epsilon will have to take matters into their hands. As they will face the evil legacy of Hawthorne College.
Despite what the name, Black Christmas, might suggest, Billy is out of the picture entirely, replaced with a more shadowy cabal, much akin to the ones at the end of the Stepford Wives reboot. Under the direction of Sophia Takal, there’s a greater focus to put our heroes more in the forefront, and less than damsels, ready to be slaughtered in inventively horrific ways. Black Christmas makes a great effort to reflect the real issues that women face every day, much in the same way that the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre candidly tackled issues that the youth would. While the horror genre has been an effective tool to tackle these issues, the frankness of both these films may mark a new paradigm shift in the future.
If you found the 2006 remake to be far too graphic for your taste, you might be pleased to find out that the 2019 Black Christmas, does tone down the gratuitous elements a lot. Also like the 2006 version, the cast is a fresh ensemble, considering the University setting, this makes a lot of sense. Although you may recognise the likes of Imogen Poots, who you might remember from 28 Weeks Later, and Knight of Cups. Meanwhile, Westley himself, Cary Elwes also portrays the piece-of-work Professor Gelson, the rest of the cast is a collection of lesser-known, but promising names, that might branch off into bigger things in the future.
With its finger on the pulse of modern issues, Black Christmas offers an interesting alternative to the classic formula and culminates into a fascinating remake, one that takes the brand name and pivots into interesting new directions. Although some might be dismayed by the alleged bait-and-switch, especially those who wanted to see the likes of Billy in the 2010s, much so like the remake did in 2006. Still, if you want some newer ideas, with newer cast members, who you might see in later films, Black Christmas might just be at home for your holiday watchlist.
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