Black Christmas (15), (100 mins), Cineworld Cinemas
You’d have to say there’s something horribly distasteful about this festive tale of a campus killer running amok.
But as horrible as it is, it is also horribly watchable, with all the elements in place for a nervy hour and a half which ends in a predictable blood bath before sending us all home with a jaunty little tune over the closing credits.
We’ve got an utterly useless security guard, more concerned with making a sandwich than listening to the obviously legitimate worries of an obviously troubled student; we’ve also got a total absence of the emergency services. Clearly nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever raise them in this particular world – the completely incomprehensible world of American college frats and sororities.
Also thrown into the mix, we’ve got a general willingness to wander into dusty abandoned attics; a ghastly, creepy terribly plummy Brit classics professor; and a host of hooded figures who wander around with bows and arrows.
Everything is in place for a grim old tale as a bunch of girls are picked off one by one… until it’s just the really resolute ones left standing.
Mostly the girls are fairly sketchily delineated, the Mu Kappa Epsilon sisters (whatever that means) including athlete Marty (Lily Donoghue, The CW's Jane the Virgin), rebel Kris (Aleyse Shannon, The CW's Charmed) and foodie Jesse (Brittany O'Grady, Fox's Star).
You really wouldn’t want to be any of them.
By far the most interesting of the lot, though, is Riley Stone (Imogen Poots), a girl raped in the recent past, inevitably still struggling to come to terms with it and fearful that she has unleashed all the current horrors by publicly shaming the culprit.
You’d never claim it to be the most intelligent of thrillers, but it’s definitely got a certain something, a grim and grisly effectiveness as the forces of evil close in and we all will the girls to find a way to fight back.
Black Christmas certainly leaves a nasty taste, but it ramps up the tension nicely… At the very least, it’s the perfect antidote to the ghastly saccharine of the misfiring Last Christmas.
It also has the virtue of being mercifully short. Inevitably, really. There’s no one much left by the end.