The film “Black Christmas,” a remake of the 1974 horror classic, has been advertised as a horror film that smashes the patriarchy.
Speaking with HuffPost, writer/director Sophia Takal said she wanted to give a refreshingly modern spin on the 1974 slasher flick by imbuing it with some updated feminist politics.
Though the original film essentially told a straightforward slasher tale about an unknown killer stalking a sorority house during Christmas, it did contain a small level of 1970s-style sexual politics regarding abortion. But the film let the audience decide for itself how to view the main character, Jess (played by Olivia Hussey), and her decision to abort her out-of-wedlock child. It never directly advocated for her decision to abort. In fact, the movie even allowed some sympathy for the baby’s father, Peter (brilliantly played by Keir Dullea), and played a clever trick by falsely painting him as the killer. In fact, one could even argue that the film’s ending sent a subtle message about how radical feminism can leave women vulnerable to evil.
The new version, as HuffPost describes it, leaves no room for nuance and confuses political sermonizing with genuine storytelling. Here’s just a brief sampling of the plot:
The film stars Imogen Poots as Riley, a sexual assault survivor whose abuser was protected by the school and largely went unpunished. Singled out by men in the university’s administration and supported only by her tightknit sorority, Riley is forced back into the school’s spotlight as she begins to suspect her fellow students are going missing over winter break.
Takal said she wanted to make a movie in which audiences felt “seen” rather than objectified.
“I wanted to make a movie where, instead of feeling objectified or watched from a distance, the audience felt seen,” Takal said. “People have asked me what it means to make a feminist movie or what you bring to a movie as a woman, and I feel like you kind of just articulated it so well. It’s about women feeling seen.”
Takal especially highlighted how the film does not focus on a specific heroine and instead chooses to have a group of heroines vanquish the big baddie.
“One of the most interesting things about this movie to me is that there’s not a single final girl, this lone woman who beats the bad forces and comes out on top,” said Takal. “It’s that it does take a village, a community of women. And that speaks to the time we’re in as well. Marginalized people are lifting each other up and it takes a whole army, for lack of a better word, of people who are willing to speak out against all the bad things that are going on right now. ”
The movie has a 3.0 rating on IMDB as of this writing and a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Genuinely wish I’d followed the advice of some of the reviews I’ve seen and given this one a miss — it’s essentially a feminist advertisement with a few slasher moments thrown in to make the trailer seem half appealing. Glad I didn’t pay to see it!” said one IMDB reviewer who gave the film a one-star review.