Jeff Butler (Patterson) investigates a house that he inherited and unveils a history of violence and evil. Meanwhile, the townspeople each seem to have a link to the house and a reason to tie them back to the scene of mysterious events the day before Christmas, 1935.
The pacing of the movie is pretty good, with a man on fire and a guy randomly killing a dog in the first ten minutes. There are some good kills, including some ax choppery. There are far too many back-story issues at the beginning, but they become neatly tied up. Once someone steps foot in the house, the murders begin, and continue in rapid succession.
One important note: the maniac on the loose hates cars. There’s more spent on car insurance premiums in this movie than effects.
O’Neal carries the movie on his back for the first portion, assisted by the ominous string section soundtrack and grainy camera footage. Astrid Hereen is stunning as his “red sports car”, the younger woman to his older commanding man. Their relationship has huge master and servant undertones.
Patterson replaces O’ Neal as the male lead part-way through the film, when he and Diane Adams (Moronov), the mayor’s daughter get together. There are enough questions around his role in the murders and his past, and he disappears at all the right times to keep the questions rolling.
Second important note: there’s a “No Trespassing” sign that gets more face time than half the actors.
Time has dulled some of the scariness factor of the movie, but viewers quick to shoot the movie down should reconsider. “Silent Night, Bloody Night” really hits its stride when the events of the 1930’s are revealed. The inmates are let loose on the asylum in the film’s signature shot.
With an intentionally grainy feel, the uniform inmates move like ghosts in an eerie silence before a grisly climax. An orchestral version of the title song plays beneath the swaying actors, escalating as the violence does. Even after returning to the present, the movie seems reinvigorated. The finale delivers well, mixing the past and present well, revealing that the evil isn’t limited to the house alone.
“Silent Night, Bloody Night” funnels from a series of odd characters and events to a neatly tied up finish. The acting is solid from all ends, even if some of the characters are bizarre from the onset. Resist the temptation to give up on the film early, because it really ramps up once Patterson arrives.