(news.yahoo.com) - This remake retains the basic "body count in a sorority house" premise but everything is taken to garish, tedious extremes.
'Tis the season for stabbings, gouged-out eyes and disembodied heads -- at least that is the rationale behind the December 25 release of "Black Christmas," an idiotic, over-the-top retelling of the trailblazing 1975 Bob Clark slasher movie.
Written and directed by "Final Destination" franchise co-creator Glen Morgan (who did a similar hatchet job with his 2003 remake of "Willard"), this tension-free cheese ball of a thriller earned just $3.3 million on its first day, and will likely land on the curb along with those dried-out Christmas trees not too long after New Year's Day.
While Morgan has retained the basic "body count in a sorority house" premise of the original Roy Moore script, all other aspects have been given a trashy -- not in a good John Waters way -- makeover in which everything is taken to garish, tedious extremes.
That would doubly apply to the back story provided for newly named Billy (played by Robert Mann), the psycho killer who has snuck in to the sorority house and is systematically offing the female occupants, played by the likes of Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert.
Where scant motivation for the killings was provided in the original, only adding to the fright factor, here Morgan works up a convoluted series of flashbacks involving the killer's traumatic childhood at the hands of a physically and sexually abusive mother, her cannibalistic murder and his eventual Christmas Eve escape from the Clark (how reverential) Sanitarium leading to the bloody spree in the very house in which he was so memorably raised.
There are a couple clever touches here and there, including one sequence in which the end of a candy cane has been carefully licked into a highly lethal weapon, but for the most part the accompanying histrionics feel more regressive than retro.
In between the grisly death sequences, the female inhabitants, including house mother Andrea Martin, who also appeared in the Clark version, are either doing a lot of screaming or calling each other bitches.
On a single poignant note, the shot-in-Vancouver production marks the last score for composer Shirley Walker, who passed away in November. Here, as with so much of her work, which ran the gamut from "Falcon Crest" to the animated "Superman" and "Batman" TV series, Walker's moody themes remained respectfully understated and unobtrusive, even when her directors failed to exhibit similar restraint.