Black Christmas 2019

This one just keeps getting made, doesn’t it? Anyway, being not just a not-fan of cult horror, but considering it kind of my custom-made nemesis, I was kind of blindsided by this one a bit. Will link a very even-handed review below, but, for anybody who likes the message here, maybe not the wrapper? I suggest one of the more amazing stories from last year, Kelly Robson’s “What Gentle Women Dare,” over at Uncanny, which just keeps on with the amazingness. That story just flat blows me away.

Anyway, that review, over at Austin Chronicle, whose film talk I usually trust:

Should say, too: I did really appreciate, as you can see in that still, the use of recurve bows for indoor archery. I mean, not that a long bow can’t be deadly wherever, but a recurve’s A) shorter, and, B) unless you’re Howard Hill, can pop a bird in flight, probably more responsive in quickdraw situations. This is why those Mongolian bows are all so short and recurve: you’re shooting horseback, you need something you can flip from side to side of a horse’s neck, and snap back & release in no time flat.

And of course you wouldn’t use a wheelbow. I mean, they can be loud sometimes, and when you’re wearing a billowy cloak, you don’t need fabric getting wrapped all up in the works. Too? Where to find a whole RACK of compound bows on short notice, right? I mean, recurves, sure, this is a college campus, there’s an archery class, there’s a closet or two stacked with 35# fiberglass bows that shoot different every time. Which is good enough in the confines of a living room, I should think.

All of which is to say: I don’t knock the bow selection here. Just the cult stuff, which—okay: why I don’t dig cult horror? I think horror works so much better when it bottlenecks to a SINGLE baddie, not when it opens up to a whole field of them. The Void, Paranormal Activity 3, The Last Exorcism, Hereditary, (even…) The Wicker Man, on and on. But it can work, I have to allow that. Rosemary’s Baby‘s, right? The Invitation, I mean, c’mon. Anyway, when I teach horror writing, one of the tenets I try to get across is that one ghost is scarier than fourteen. As in . . . The Descent, say: when it’s just one crawler, man, that’s terrifying. When it’s a whole colony of them, it’s just a video game, pop pop pop. Which isn’t to deny Noël Carroll’s Monsters of Massification, of course, but that’s . . . that’s ants and stuff, that’s Slither, that’s Night of the Creeps, that’s Bugs, and that’s all way different: the hivemind IS a ‘single’ baddie, there. But people in robes, chanting evil, they (hardly) ever do it for me. Give me one Gannon at the end, not fourteen, please.

Author: SGJ