Silent Night, Bloody Night. It Ain't What You Think it is.
Confession: I’m no big fan of Christmas films of any sort. I’ve seen A Christmas Story, and it makes me want to take those horrible hard candy ribbons everyone’s grandmother served in the seventies, give them some serious licks, and throw them at the screen to see if I can make them stick—or break the screen. Whatever. The same goes for Miracle on 34th Street, despite winsome Natalie Wood. Or maybe because of winsome Natalie Wood. And don’t even get me started on It’s A Wonderful Life. I fiercely pretend to like Elf only because it’s my 20-year-old son’s perennial favorite, and I love him dearly. Plus, I let him down with the whole Santa Claus charade when he was twelve, mostly because I was getting seriously tired of hiding things and using weird wrapping paper I’d never otherwise buy because for some reason I decided Santa had crappy taste.
But, Laura! None of those are crime films, or horror films. Surely you could find something in one of those genres to like…Just no. I never wanted to take the chance. Except I went with my family to see Krampus. It’s now my second-favorite Christmas film, and I could only like it more if Krampus dragged off little Natalie Wood, or maybe Tom Hanks.
Silent Night, Bloody Night is also the American title of La Nuit du Réveillon, a French film from 2011.
True story: Five minutes into watching La Nuit du Réveillon, my first thought was, “Damn, I wish I were French.”
My second was, “What moron changed La Nuit du Réveillon—roughly translated as Fancy Christmas Eve Dinner: a Stylish French Suspense Thriller—to Silent Night, Bloody Night for the American market?" If it was a French person, it demonstrates that the French truly do despise us. If it was an American, that person should be publicly flogged.
The very best part? An equivocal ending. Who does that? The answer is, very few screenwriters or fiction writers. Our mass culture doesn’t go for that. It’s too thoughtful. Too confusing. I know people type “What is meaning of ending of (insert film title)” into Google because if I type in “end meaning of…” I get explanations of the end of Netflix’s Eli, The Lighthouse, “‘Joker’ As Diagnosis,” and “Wounds Ending Explained,” etc.
I love the sincerity of the film. It’s unabashedly sentimental in parts—mostly on the part of the villain. That seems just right to me.
a fancy store, or make your own. Pour some bubbly and have a Bloody Merry Evening of your own, mes amis!
Laura Benedict is the Edgar- and ITW Thriller Award- nominated author of eight novels, including The Stranger Inside (Publishers Weekly starred review). Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Strand Magazine and in numerous anthologies such as At Home in the Dark and St. Louis Noir. A native of Cincinnati, she lives in Southern Illinois with her family.