Ho! Ho! Ho! (and MURDER!) “Black X-Mas”

October 15, 2013


As I watched (and then half-watched, and then just sorta used for background noise) Black X-Mas, I kept thinking of William Hurt’s line in A History of Violence, “How do you screw that up?” It’s a question I wanted to ask writer-director Glen Morgan. A psychotic killer. A sorority house as Christmas filled with nubile, young women. How do you screw that up?

But screw it up, Morgan did. The same way he screwed up The X-Files, Millennium, Space: Above and Beyond, and whatever other cinematic endeavors this guy has undertaken. It’s not just the pedestrian camera work and dull-as-Triscuits script–you gotta expect those things from any disreputable slasher flick–no, Morgan has managed to piss away the best element of the movie.

It was like "Battlestar Galactica" meets "The Hills"

It was like “Battlestar Galactica” meets “The Hills”

Hot sorority chicks. All alone at Christmas. It doesn’t take a Mensa candidate to figure out the logical direction the film should go: plenty of partying, sex, and gratuitous nudity. Hell, even the worst Friday the 13th sequel throws in an obligatory topless shot. But no, Morgan wants us to understand the twisted history of the killer and know why he kills. Right, Glen, because that add so much to the story. I’d much rather watch that then hot sorority babes and so would your key 15-30 year-old demographic.

So, instead of watching the girls give each other back rubs in lingerie, we get flashbacks to the most dysfunctional family in the universe. Instead of watching the girls have pillow fights in lingerie, we get some half-assed Flowers in the Attic subplot. Instead of watching a couple of the girls experiment with bisexuality, we get…well, you see where this is going. Does someone have to explain to Glen Morgan that watching hot sorority girls frolic in lingerie is more interesting that watching a yellow-skinned freak kid get sexually abused by his mother? And if so, exactly how much crack is he smoking?

No, you will not see any of these women naked.

No, you will not see any of these women naked.

Granted, the girls aren’t smoking hot, but casting Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert at least promises some illicit, jailbait fun. Alas, any hopes of watching Buffy’s little sister make out with the Party of Five little sister are cruelly dashed. And what was the thinking behind casting Andrea Martin as the house mother? Why couldn’t the house mother be some hot grad student who likes doing yoga in her sports bra and short-shorts? Then she could notice one of the girls surreptitiously watching her and invite the girl to join her. One things leads to another, and pretty soon… See? The damn screenplay writes itself!

Really? Is this so hard?

Really? Is this so hard?

But no, the girls all remain fully clothed. They snipe and argue and are generally about as much fun to watch as real sorority girls are. And then the killer starts dispatching them and taking their eyeballs. There’s also some dull tripe in there about the meaning of family and what it means to be a part of a family. Glen, if you’re trying to build subtext into a movie where the bad guy makes Christmas cookies out of his mother’s corpse, well…you just shouldn’t try to build subtext into a movie where the bad guy makes Christmas cookies out of his mother’s corpse.

The movie had three different endings (none of which involved practicing French kissing and/or lingerie), which generally signals that things were a wreck from the start. Pity the producers couldn’t have stepped in earlier in the production and added the T&A this film so desperately needed.

I’m still a little in awe of Black X-mas, though. Sorority babes and a serial killer…How do you screw that up? Apparently Glen Morgan found a way. So, um, you know what? here’s a clip from Insecticidal instead.

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