December, y'all! 'Tis the season and all that jazz. I found the original Black Christmas on Netflix Instant Streaming (whoever invented Netflix, I will have your baby), and wanted to see if it was better than the horrible yet hilariously cheesy remake from 2006.
Probably the shortest synopsis I've written: During the holiday break, girls in a sorority house are terrorized by a series of menacing phone calls and the disappearance of one of their sorority sisters. Starring Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Olivia Hussey, and some other people that I don't care about.
Sadly, I wasn't as scared by the film overall as most reviewers said I would be. It's a good movie and all, but for me the scare-factor is grossly overrated. Perhaps it's because I've seen the whole girl-alone-in-house-receives-creepy-phone-calls scenario one too many times and I'm seriously over it. Perverted phone calls themselves are just not scary. I'm sorry. I mean, we know from movies like this and When a Stranger Calls and Scream that the person on the other end of the line really actually might be a psychotic serial killer, but if you can get upset from somebody saying gross things to you on the phone, you're just kind of a wuss. And there's a simple solution - hang up. Better yet, don't answer the phone again. Problem solved. If you call me and don't state your business right after I say hello, I'm hanging up on your ass, that's all there is to it.
I might have been more creeped out by the nature of the phone calls themselves IF I could have actually fucking heard what was being said. Of course I heard the first call - the Penthouse Forum edition, if you will. I had to go back and watch all the phone call scenes again and turn the volume up before I caught all the stuff about Billy and Agnes.
See now, this is why people shouldn't make fun of me for watching almost all my movies with subtitles. I always like to put the English subtitles on a film that I'm seeing for the first time so I don't miss anything. Clearly, I could have used them here. Get on that shit, Netflix.
I did kind of lose all respect for Jess when she still goes upstairs after the officer specifically told her not to. The calls were coming from inside the house, and from what the caller said, he is probably psychotic and the only other people in the house are not answering your repeated yells - you're in college, girlfriend. This is a no-brainer. LEAVE. But no, the dumb bitch is right at the front door and she still decides to go upstairs. At the same time, thank you for following steadfastly to the rules of surviving a horror film. There's comfort in that kind of consistency. Will we ever have a truly smart Final Girl who never makes any stupid decisions?
Sidenote: Thank goodness "house mothers" are not a part of normal sorority life anymore. I was in a sorority in college and that would have just been weird. What the hell would a house mother do all day, every day anyway? 'Tis unnecessary.
Olivia Hussey and her most beautiful face and voice make a wonderful leading lady and final girl in the character of Jess, and she is a nice character for us to follow. I hope Ms. Hussey knows that pretty much every woman in the world probably hates her guts and she should lock her doors at all times. It's the accent. And the hair. And the eyes. Mostly the accent. Margot Kidder is quite good as the sorority drunk with a sharp tongue - although I thought for a second that she was the house mother because she looks far older than the other girls. John Saxon seems to always be a cop in his movies and he seems to have got the role down pretty good.
All in all, this impressive cast makes up for the fact that the movie is - dare I say it - boring at times. There is tension throughout, but not enough action at the conclusion to relieve that tension. The final scene does leave me feeling very creeped as to what Billy is going to keep doing in the attic of that sorority house. You read in books about people "shuddering." I think I actually did that at the end of the movie.