Black Christmas Review
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On Christmas Eve, a group of sorority sisters gather around the Christmas tree at their sorority house to partake in a little holiday cheer before some of the sisters head home for Christmas. Their housemother, Mrs. Mac (Andrea Martin), begins the celebration as she has for yearsówith the houseís gift to Billy Lenz (played as a child by Cainan Wiebe and as an adult by Robert Mann), the houseís murderous former occupant.

As a child, Billy lived with the hatred of his evil, alcoholic mother. At five, he witnessed the Christmas murder of his fatheróafter which he was kept locked in the attic. A victim of both abuse and incest, Billy finally broke out of the attic on Christmas in 1991, when he brutally murdered his mother and stepfather and disfigured his sister (who, incidentally, was also his daughter). Since then, heís been locked in the local asylumís ward for the criminally insane. But this Christmas Eve, he finally manages to escapeóand he heads home for the holiday.

The houseís gift to Billy is supposed to ward off evilóbut this year, it doesnít work. As a winter storm swirls around them, the girls in the sorority house begin to disappear, one by one. And mysterious phone calls from missing sistersí cell phones begin to tip off the remaining girls that theyíre being watched.

This remake of the 1974 cult classic slasher film may be cheesy and predictable and formulaic, but itís also pretty freakiní creepy. Of course, itís definitely not without its share (or even more than its share) of flaws. The story isnít exactly solid, and there are some strange themes and plenty of holes along the way to complicate the story (and, at times, confuse the viewer). But the classic slasher-film must-haves are all there: a creepy old house full of stereotypical (and expendable) characters, a storm that leaves them trapped, a power failure, and a demented killer who goes psycho after being abused by his evil mother. Itís all thereóand though it sometimes feels a little over-the-top and silly, itís usually just done as a somewhat campy homage to the classics.

While Iím sure die-hard fans of the 1974 version have their usual complaints about the remake, I havenít seen the original, so I came into this one with a clean slate. I can guarantee that the new Black Christmas wonít become a horror classicósince todayís horror fans seem to prefer gruesome films with non-stop violence and stomach-turning gore (and preferably plenty of naked chicks), and, in comparison, Black Christmas is pretty understated (though thereís still plenty of stuff to induce a nightmare or two). But since I like movies that leave some of the horror to the imagination, I didnít mind it. It has a creepy, suspenseful storyóreminiscent of the scary stories told around the campfire when you were a kid. Sure, itís cheesy, but as long as you donít take it seriously, it makes for campy late-late-night fun.

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