Review: Black Christmas (2019)

 Year: 2019
Runtime:
Director: Sophia Takal
Writer: Sophia Takal, April Wolfe
Stars: Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue

Slay bells ring, are you listening?

By Reyna Cervantes.

(This review will be Spoiler-free)

To say that “Black Christmas” is the movie society needs to take note of is a massive understatement. Directed by Sopia Takal and written by herself and April Wolfe, “Black Christmas” is a modern updating of the 1974 classic. Whereas most remakes and reboots take the safe route and give us what we as an audience expect, this 2019 update is at once a loving tribute to the original but also pushes it into scary and very real directions.

Lead by a standout performance by Imogen Poots as Riley Stone, “Black Christmas” has themes that are sure to resonate with young women. Riley, herself a victim of a sexual assault, is forced throughout to constantly face her abuser and the ramifications of her speaking out against him. Meanwhile her and her sorority sisters are seemingly being stalked and harassed by someone with ill intent, but there’s more below the surface.

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Cary Elwes supports as Professor Gelson, who’s syllabus includes works that support the idea of male superiority and leads the founder’s fraternity, DKO. The college’s founder is regularly brought up to be a racist misogynist and his ideals seem to leaking into the minds of the young men in the fraternity, leading to toxic environments and ideals around the campus.

“To say that “Black Christmas” is the movie society needs to take note of is a massive understatement…this 2019 update is at once a loving tribute to the original but also pushes it into scary and very real directions.”

“Black Christmas” doesn’t waste any time setting up Riley and her sisters or the environment that they’re forced to navigate, so what we’re left with is lean, mean, slasher film that runs at a breakneck speed. Once the girls realize what’s going on it becomes a kill or be killed situation and the girls are in for the fight of their lives with a finale that has to be one of the best finales I’ve seen this year.

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The real standout is Imogen Poots, who brings a textured performance as a victim of sexual assault dealing with PTSD, you really get a sense of what she’s going through and the emotions and worries that are going through her mind. She’s the moral center of a story where the world is out to get her and you want to see her make it through all of this.

“Once the girls realize what’s going on it becomes a kill or be killed situation and the girls are in for the fight of their lives with a finale that has to be one of the endings I’ve seen this year.”

From with fantastic and at times claustrophobic direction by Sopia Takal to it’s razor sharp screenplay, “Black Christmas” sways from the feeling of fear and helplessness to full on survival-mode. I can’t praise it’s tone balance enough. I wanted to stand up and practically cheer by the end of it and will definitely be on my yearly holiday watch list (it’s also got the greatest “Exorcist III” tribute I’ve ever seen in a movie).

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When it comes down to it, “Black Christmas” is coming from a genuine place. What I respect most is that this movie wears it message on it’s sleeve for all to see. Where some movies relish in being subtle “Black Christmas” makes its message loud and clear for all to hear, at once a loving tribute to a 1974 classic and a rallying cry for women and victims of abuse in our current social climate. Slay on girls, Slay on.

Rating:

4 stars

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