Can you remember the first time you really knew you were going to die? You know, when you learned that every human and living being on the planet has an expiration date, including you? What if that date was Christmas, and everyone else was going to die, too? That’s the premise for writer/director Camille Griffin’s film Silent Night. The film is terrifying and as dark as a starless sky, not because of the premise itself, but because of how the story unfolds.
Absolutely not for children, and not even for adults who avoid movies with children in peril, this is decidedly not a Christmas movie. It has the trappings of one, complete with a super creepy and completely ridiculous song called The Christmas Sweater sung by Michael Bublé, but Silent Night is a horror-drama, and certainly scarier than most holiday slasher flicks.
Nell (Keira Knightley) and her husband Simon (Matthew Goode) are readying their posh manor house for the family Christmas eve dinner. Pressure seems to be high, but that could be holiday dysfunctional family business as usual. Nell wants everything to be perfect, but she and Simon have given both their 13 year old son Art (Roman Griffin Davis) and their younger twins Thomas and Hardy (Gilby and Hardy Griffin Davis) permission to curse, and they are doing so with vigor. As members start showing up, she gives hugs, and reminds them it is a night of forgiveness and love. There’s Sandra (Annabelle Wallis), her husband Tony (Rufus Jones) and their daughter Kitty (David McKenzie), a young doctor named James (Sope Dirisu) and his lady love Sophie (Lily-Rose Depp, looking more and more like her mother, Vanessa Paradis), and partners Bella (Lucy Punch) and Alex (Kirby Howell-Batiste). As expected, there are simmering resentments and secrets best not shared, but this being a holiday, they all make themselves known. Of course they are, since this is the last evening they’ll spend together. Tomorrow morning, they’ll all be dead, and so, we are told, will every other person on Earth.
The reveal happens slowly, although there are small clues from the beginning. Since most viewers will know the premise going in, they’ll be watching and listening for the cracks in the festive Christmas cheer. For one thing, there’s no water. The adults are drinking Prosecco, and the kids are drinking orange soda. What’s coming out of the tap is brown and pungent of effluvia. The various revelers are dropping the ‘well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore’ type of comments. Nell and Simon’s son Art, though, is obsessed with the toxic clouds, and the way they’ll kill when they arrive overhead. They cause a sort of hemorrhagic reaction that includes seizures, melting organs, and bleeding from every orifice. It’s excruciating, and it isn’t pretty. That’s why the government has given every upstanding citizen a big pill that kills them without pain. This does not including the homeless or undocumented immigrants, because f*ck them, apparently. Art can’t stop sneaking away to read about deaths and impending world doom or talking openly about the unfairness of exclusion. He’s putting a damper on everyone’s last day alive.
To read the entire review, go to AWFJ.org HERE.