BLACK CHRISTMAS. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLACK CHRISTMAS. (2019) BASED ON THE 1974 MOVIE WRITTEN BY A. ROY MOORE.
DIRECTED BY SOPHIA TAKAL. SCREENPLAY WRITTEN BY SOPHIA TAKAL AND APRIL WOLFE.
CO-PRODUCED BY JASON BLUM OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS.
STARRING IMOGEN POOTS, BRITTANY O’GRADY AND CARY ELWES.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Maybe Brian Huntley will think twice before he rapes another girl.’

This festive slasher movie is the second re-make of the famous 1974 film of the same name, but its’ themes of political correctness and women empowering themselves to stop taking men’s abuse/bullshit/sexual and other violence any more makes it a vastly different film to the original one.

I’m not even sure how men would feel about this re-make, written and directed by women and calling ‘frat boys’ out on their ‘rape culture.’ I don’t think the message of the film is that we should hate men exactly, but it definitely wants us to be wary of anyone with a penis, in case they try to put it in us after slipping us a ‘roofie,’ as per the film’s wonderfully shocking theme song.

Part of me while watching this was going, like, yay, women! You damn well empower yourselves, lol. The part that was seeking sheer holiday escapism, however, was a bit miffed that the film-makers tried to sneak in some modern-day themes of male violence against women, but, hey, maybe that’s what we should be doing nowadays, filling our films with socially conscious messages, I just don’t know.

The sorority girls of Hawthorne College, beautifully decked out for Christmas (the college, I mean, not the girls, although the girls look lovely too!), are getting ready to spend the holiday season on campus, for various reasons. A load of staff and students have already gone home for Christmas, so the college is emptier than usual.

The viewer knows, however, from the opening scenes, that a black-cloaked, masked killer has set his sights on the women of our sorority house. He has already brutally murdered one young lady, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the real-life abduction of college girl Georgann Hawkins by serial killer Ted Bundy in the early ‘Seventies.

Georgann was literally walking the very short distance home at night from the frat house where her boyfriend lived back to her sorority house. They’d been studying for a Spanish test which was to take place the next morning. Ted Bundy intercepted her somewhere along this very short route and walked off with her into the darkness. Georgann was never seen alive again.

Anyway, our sorority girls, led by Imogen Poots as Riley, have really pissed off the male population of Hawthorne College. At the college’s Christmas concert, four of them, dressed in sexy Santa outfits, get up onstage and call out the lads for the above-mentioned rape culture they seem to be embracing.

It’s not just empty words on the girls’ parts, however, as Riley has direct, first-hand experience of being raped by Brian Huntley, one of the top frat boys. Plus, in all seriousness, there probably isn’t a sorority woman alive who hasn’t experienced some form of sexual harassment at some stage at the hands of their counterparts, the college men.

Now the video of Riley and the girls singing their anti-rape song, with Riley accidentally name-checking Brian in a throwaway remark at the end, is online and clocking up the views. The frat boys are not happy…

Cary Elwes stars as a misogynistic professor who is clearly on the lads’ side as far as the whole male-female debate is concerned. Riley has glimpsed a secret ritual involving cloaked, masked and hooded frat boys that seems to revolve around the bust of Calvin Hawthorne, the founder of the college, which has been removed from public display after the sorority women protested at the glorification of a racist slave-owner. Those women sure aren’t standing for any nonsense, are they…? And what are the lads up to, as if we couldn’t guess…?

The slasher stuff is fairly standard, although the bow and arrow is probably a little different, if a bit clunky and awkward to put into practice. It increases the feeling that the women are being hunted down and stalked, as if they’re really just prey, like a deer or a moose, which of course they are in this film.

Bow and arrow notwithstanding, it’s good to see the women, who are being relentlessly stalked by the killer(s), standing up for themselves and fighting back instead of lying down and dying under male domination and violence. It makes a bit of a change.

Is this the shape of films to come, I wonder? Will women refuse to look pretty and be battered/raped/maimed/tortured/killed in the movies any more? Who will be the new victims in the movies of the future? Men won’t want to be, so I suppose we’ll have to invent a new third sex to take the flack. It’s all very complicated. Enjoy the film, though. Slay belles ring, are you listening…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234
  

CREEP (2014) AND CREEP 2 (2017). A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CREEP (2014) AND CREEP 2 (2017). DIRECTED BY AND STARRING MARK DUPLASS AND PATRICK BRICE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really liked this clever double bill of films, hopefully one day to be a trilogy. The two lads involved, Duplass and Brice, have written, scripted, acted in and directed two really sharp, smart innovative ‘found-footage’ movies, even though the genre has been pretty well exhausted by now and it must be hard to keep coming up with new twists and turns to keep it fresh.

The only negative thing I’ll say about it, and it’s not even really a negative, more of an ‘inevitable,’ is that, once you’ve seen the excellent first movie, you kind of know what’s in store for you with the second, and, I suppose, any third movie the lads get around to making as well. But don’t let that put you off. These films are great fun, and perfect viewing for Halloween.

In the first film, Patrick Brice portrays Aaron, a videographer with not much coming in in the way of jobs and money, who accepts an assignment that offers a videographer just like him a thousand bucks for one day’s work. He travels on the appointed day to an out-of-the-way cabin near some woods and meets Josef, the client, played by Mark Duplass.

So, what exactly does this Josef fella want filmed, then? He tells Aaron a perfectly acceptable and even heart-rending story as to why he wants the younger man to film him as he goes through a Day in his Life.

Josef is good-looking, charismatic, obviously wealthy, well-spoken and doesn’t at all seem like the kind of nut-job who’d go round axe-murdering folks while wearing a full-head wolf mask, hahaha…

Aaron is a little weirded out by Josef’s hands-on touchy-feely-ness and the way Josef thinks they’ve formed a new lifelong friendship, but, hey, some guys are just full-on like that. Aaron starts filming (anyone for a ‘tubbie,’ lol…?) and clearly thinks that a thousand bucks in the hand for a day’s work is a really good deal by anyone’s standards.

To say that Josef is a ridiculously complex person and that Aaron’s life is in the gravest danger is something of an understatement. Is any word that ever comes out of Josef’s mouth the truth, or is he just a pathological liar through-and-through?

He makes Aaron jump through hoops during their day together, holding the money out to him as a sort of carrot, and, by the end of their time together, Aaron is traumatised enough never to want to see Josef again, but no spoilers, right…?

In the sequel, Josef is up to his old tricks again. This time, it’s a fed-up, lonely YouTuber with a failing web series called ENCOUNTERS to her name who falls under his spell. Desiree Akhavan plays Sara, beautiful but pissed off with the way her life and her web series are going.

ENCOUNTERS sees her talking to various eccentric users of Craigslist, a massive American classified ads website. It’s a terrific idea, but obviously there are just so many people out there trying to make a name for themselves on the Internet that her own efforts are, quite simply, swamped under all the other bazillions of available shows.

When Josef, now calling himself ‘Aaron,’ by the way, tells her what kind of documentary he wants her to help him film, Sara is thrilled. This ‘encounter’ could be the one that finally gets her noticed as a YouTuber. She starts the cameras rolling, and keeps them rolling all day, despite Josef’s attempts to scare her, spook her and even get her to leave.

Is Josef not ‘into her’ because he prefers men to women, as you might have concluded yourself by now, or because she’s not as easily shaken up as Aaron was? There’s a desperation about Sara that Aaron didn’t seem to possess, down on his luck as he was, and you get this feeling that there’s literally nothing she won’t do for (a) a man she fancies, and (b) for her web series. Will she be a match for the sick-in-the-head Josef, or will she end up just another page in his diary…?

Watch out for Mark Duplass’s willy, it could go off, lol. I love the way that Josef seems almost miffed and unsettled by the fact that Sara doesn’t mind at all getting naked in turn. If he’s doing the nudity thing to shock his guest, he might just have picked on the wrong person…

I’m still laughing about the ‘tubbie’ thing from the first film. These two lads are terrific film-makers. I cannot wait for the third film in this trilogy, and for whatever plot twists and turns they’ll come up with next. There’s only one way I can end this double review, repetitive as it may seem. Anyone for another ‘tubbie?’ Ah, c’mon, the water’s lovely…!

   AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234