Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: Nell, Simon, and their son Art are ready to welcome friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing—everyone is going to die!
Review: I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I sat down to watch Silent Night but I must admit, this latest foray into Christmas-themed horror caught me completely off guard.
Starring a host of well known Brit actors and actresses, Silent Night may have been billed as a horror-comedy but truth be told it’s a bit difficult to pigeonhole it into this particular genre because the movie’s tone bounces about and takes a bit of time to settle into which genre it really belongs to. The first act plays out like a comedy where you’re expecting the usual trope of a group of friends gathering together over the Christmas holidays to descend into chaos as secrets are revealed and shenanigans ensue, but director Camille Griffin steers the story into a much more sombre and dramatic tone in the second act as its revealed toxic winds are blowing through London (and the rest of the world), winds that carry with it an excruciatingly painful death.
As the R.E.M. song goes it’s the end of the world as we know it, and we’re along for the ride as each character amongst this band of long time friends, including Nell (Keira Knightley) her loving husband Simon (Matthew Goode) their twin boys and the very mature for his age son Art (Roman Griffin Davis) try to come to terms with the fact none of them may be alive to see another New Year.
The movie takes a bit of time to find its footing but once it starts to deal directly with the issue at hand that’s when things truly feel frightening. Horror movies are usually a reflection of the era it exists in and Silent Night is no exception as the concept of an unstoppable virus that wipes out the entire world may be a bit too realistic for some to watch. Pre-Covid I don’t think scenes of poor Art reading the news of what’s happening on his phone or discussing with his parents whether or not they should take the easy way out or fight for survival would be as impactful if we ourselves weren’t somewhat experiencing it in real life.
The actors here are beyond talented with bodies of work behind them that I’m sure most would agree have been equal parts entertaining and impressive. Annabelle Wallis, Lucy Punch, Kirby Howell-Baptiste Rufus Jones and Sope Dirisu. Even if you don’t know their names offhand I’m sure you’ll recognize their faces and you’ve seen their films. Younger actors and newcomers like the aforementioned Roman Griffin Davis (his real life twin brothers, Hardy and Gilby, also star here) are joined by Lily-Rose Depp and Davida McKenzie who finish rounding out this multi-talented cast but sadly the screenplay doesn’t do that much to utilise those talents in a way that felt impactful beyond a handful of scenes. Which is a damn shame because handled differently this could’ve been the Love Actually of horror movies and by that I mean it would’ve been nice if they had taken the time to develop the characters and their stories in a way that felt more meaningful beyond just a few witty pieces of dialogue and a couple of heartfelt moments (here young Roman Davis as Art tends to shine the brightest).
To wrap up, where Silent Night excels is in its performances (handicapped by the script as they were), some darkly humorous bits (that I wish the script had more of) and in its concept. It asks the kind of questions that people may brush over with anecdotes about how they would spend their last hours on earth but the reality itself would be a much more sombre tale. The ending is also potentially one of the scariest moments in recent horror that I can think of and I can see it leading to lengthy discussions for those who will ultimately wonder when and if the end does come what path would you choose?
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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