Film Review: Silent Night Zombie Night (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

A week before Christmas a viral outbreak turns the citizens of Los Angeles into the walking dead. On the brink of severing ties with both his wife and longtime partner, L.A.P.D. officer Frank Talbot finds himself trapped with them. As death closes in their survival is further threatened by the fact that both men love the same woman.

REVIEW:

I’ll come right out and say it; Christmas in L.A. isn’t Christmas. At least it doesn’t seem like Christmas. My apologies to everyone who lives in L.A. or anywhere that actually has warm weather during the holiday season, a lack of snow is not your fault and in no way should take away from enjoying your holiday observances. On film it’s a different story. It works if it’s instrumental to the story or if it furthers the absurdity inherent in the great city of angels. It works if you go all out and run with it; not if you leave Christmas at the starting blocks. Admittedly “Silent Night, Zombie Night” has a couple of different themes, all of which could have served the movie well, but they never embraced the one that actually works.

Days before Christmas a small residential neighborhood in Los Angeles is overrun with zombies. Sarah is about to leave her husband Frank, a cop whose partner, Nash, gets shot in the foot as the zombies move in. After barricading themselves in and bandaging the wounded Frank and Sarah settle in to hash out their love life. As the main thrust of the movie they should have leaned more heavily on this story but muddied it with (and I can’t believe I’m going to say this) unnecessary zombie content. Alright, I’m not thoroughly convinced that zombies are ever unnecessary but their threat should have had a greater impact on their survival or at least the stress from the threat should have more presence in their decisions.

I’m all for paying homage to the great movies that inspire us to achieve, but there is a difference between walking a fine line and stealing a scene and one of the opening scenes does just that. If I want to see “Reservoir Dogs” I’ll watch it, if you want to reference it then do so with more style. To be fair there are others but after being smacked in the oculars right away I stopped looking for them. Oh, and apparently losing a toe is a grievous and imminently fatal wound. More low budget and indie film makers are turning to CGI to save some time and money which is perfectly reasonable. If you don’t have money to spend then the one thing you should have is time to spend and more time would have been well invested in the special effects. None of them were too over the top but blood spatter shouldn’t look painted on.

Too many story elements were introduced and ultimately distracted from the main line. Our hero discovers that some of the zombies are smarter than others but this never comes to fruition. It seems that the smarter zombies can still be fooled along with the rest of them by liberal application of hunting spray. Though many effects were computer generated the zombies were a tad more traditional in that they use make-up and contact lenses. I love zombies in all of their forms and incarnations but was a little put off as these resembled Klingons a bit too much for my tastes. Much like the dead end zombie story another group of survivors shows inexplicably but bears little worth. There’re others at an airfield but this new group proves largely ineffectual.

The real quality here is in the main story; the relationship between Frank, his wife Sarah and Nash, their friend and Frank’s partner. It’s a dynamic that could have been placed in almost any setting and still have the same impact. So much so that the other elements began to weigh down on being able to enjoy what good there is.

Good stories are about people and the conflict they try to overcome. “Silent Night Zombie Night” has a good core based off of this simple principle. Sadly, instead of developing this richness the film became muddied with the extraneous, unexplained detritus of a poorly laid on zombie tale.

Silent Night Zombie Night (2009)

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