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Film / Black Christmas (2006)

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"Let the slay ride begin."
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The first remake of the 1974 slasher film Black Christmas, released in 2006.

Much like in the original, a group of sorority sisters are celebrating Christmas. But the killer who crashes the party has more than a passing familiarity with their house: he used to live there, and he's going to relive the deaths of his parents.

Another remake was released on December 13, 2019.


The remake provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Billy's mother and stepfather kept Billy locked away and beaten for years, all because the poor kid had jaundice and is related to his dead father.
  • Actor Allusion: Melissa dies when part of her head is cut off by an ice skate. Michelle Trachtenberg had just portrayed an ice skater one year earlier in Ice Princess.
  • Adaptation Expansion: In the original, the killer was a mystery and we never found out anything about him (and we didn't even know if Billy was his real name). This film gives him a whole backstory, and also explains who Agnes is. Agnes herself was merely mentioned repeatedly in Billy's calls, but becomes a character in her own right.
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  • Adaptational Heroism: The Final Girl's boyfriend in the original was implied to be abusive, aggressively tries to prevent her from having an abortion and is a suspect for the killer. The equivalent Kyle is hiding a nasty secret and does chew the sorority girls out, but he redeems himself by coming back to help Kelli and Leigh, and dies trying to protect them.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Mrs Mac is the only character from the original to reappear (besides first victim Claire). Her original counterpart was an alcoholic and something of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. She's very much a Reasonable Authority Figure here.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Inverted! Mrs Mac in the original was an outrageous Lady Drunk, who provided lots of comic relief. Here, the character is more serious.
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: The gift the girls got for Mrs Mac in the original was a ghastly frumpy nightgown - and the woman snarked she "wouldn't wear this to have my liver out". This time, they get her a sexy negligee, and she excitedly asks if they also got a man for her to wear it in front of.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: A sex tape of Kyle and Megan is found on the internet, Kyle claiming someone stole it and uploaded it to get back at him. It's never made clear if Megan knew she was being filmed and whether her reaction to the video is it existing at all or the fact that it's been put on the internet.
  • Anyone Can Die: A lot of the sorority girls get an equal amount of screen time and development, leaving the audience to try and guess who will be the final girl. When the killing ensues, the girls are all picked off at random. In the end, every sorority girl is dead except for Kelli.
  • Arc Words: "...My family now." These words persist in the heads of the Lenz children.
  • Artistic License:
    • The lack of campus security intervening is hand waved with the sorority house being too far away. Every sorority house by college rules would have to be on campus.
    • Mrs Mac eats a marshmallow off a skewer she literally just took out of the fire, which should have burned her mouth.
  • Asshole Victim: It's hard to feel sorry for Mrs. Lenz and her lover since their abuse created a monster like Billy in the first place.
  • Bad Santa: Billy briefly wears a Santa outfit to escape the asylum.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Lauren spends most of the film in her pajamas, which leave her midriff on full display.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Billy attacks Leigh through a wall.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The sorority sisters are all attractive and mostly Nice Girls, except maybe Heather. Billy and Agnes are the deformed serial killers, and Billy was actually quite a cute kid before he became a killer. His mother and stepfather are rotten people, and the outsides match the inside. Contrast with his loving biological father, who is better looking.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Billy Lenz and his sister Agnes are tag teaming their murders.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Leigh, although she's an older example of the sister than usual, being about fifteen years older than Clair.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Very much so compared to the original. The 1974 film had rather tame deaths, utilising the Gory Discretion Shot for most of them. This is infamously full of Gorn, with a fixation on eyes being gouged out.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Kelli (blonde), Melissa (brunette), and Heather (redhead), who also happen to be listed first in this order in the credits. Only Kelli survives.
  • Body Bag Trick: The not-so-dead Billy and Agnes pull this off in the hospital by the end.
  • But Not Too Black: The only non WASP in the cast appears to be Lauren - who's played by the half-Chinese Crystal Lowe, and her hair is lightened to brown. Unless you count Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg is Ashkenazi-Jewish), Dana (Lacey Chabert is half-Cajun) or Mrs Mac (Andrea Martin is Armenian).
  • Child by Rape: Agnes was conceived by her mother raping her brother Billy.
  • Color Motif: The film's color palette and the Christmas decorations were intentionally pushed with an overtly red color scheme as a stylistic choice by Glen Morgan, who wanted to evoke an "American Christmas," which he characterized as being a cross between "Washington Irving and Coca-Cola."
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Leigh drove all the way in the middle of a snowstorm to pick Clair up and tries to help find her and the missing girls. She also ends up as a surrogate sister figure to Kelli.
    • Melissa is another surrogate example, and Lauren tells her she's a better sister to her than her real one.
  • Crappy Holidays: A few of the girls are said to not be spending Christmas with their families - Eve, Lauren and Dana. Kelli is also staying because she has to work so soon after Christmas Day that she won't be able to go home.
  • Creepy Doll: Agnes gets one as a Christmas gift in her childhood, and it shows up throughout the film. Notably its eyes are missing, foreshadowing what she'll later do to the sorority sisters.
  • Crosscast Role: Adult Agnes - who is established to be female - was played by a male actor. This is made quite jarring by the fact that her child self is played by a little girl.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: One character is killed by a jagged candy cane.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Megan is lured into the attic by footsteps and a snow globe tune, while Dana is lured under the crawlspace by rustling noises.
  • Daddy's Girl: It's implied that Heather is a privileged daddy's girl.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Billy kills both Heather and Eve in their cars.
  • Death by Irony: "You're my cookie, and I could gobble you up!" - said by Mrs Lenz to her daughter Agnes. She later meets her end when Billy dismembers her and cooks her into Christmas cookies.
  • Death by Sex: The Santa is killed just as he's about to be get it on with a nurse.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Mrs Mac's death in the original is given to a new character called Megan.
    • There was just apparently one killer in the original (although the voices he's able to do on the phone could suggest multiple killers) but there are two here.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Billy's mother and her boyfriend murdering Billy's father.
    • Also, the abuse she inflicts on Billy, just because he's jaundiced.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The whole reason Billy was locked up in the loony bin in the first place; he was locked in the attic just for being born with jaundiced, raped by his mother to conceive another child, and then treated like The Unfavorite. So he ends up murdering both Mrs Lenz and her lover.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Billy and Agnes are never seen wearing shoes, despite the movie taking place at Christmas night.
  • Drop the Hammer: Billy's biological father is beat to death with a hammer.
  • Ephebophile: Mrs. Lenz does seem to enjoy the idea of raping her son, which would make her a hebephile since he was 12 at the time.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mrs. Lenz and her lover do seem to care about Agnes.
  • Evil Matriarch: Billy's mother Constance, who abuses him for years, murders her husband and later rapes Billy (at the age of twelve) to conceive a daughter she doesn't have to be ashamed of.
  • Evil Phone: Like the original movie, the sorority sisters get creepy phone calls from the killer.
  • Eye Scream: All over the goddamn place - with most characters getting their eyes gouged out (and in some cases eaten!); at a point Agnes makes a Christmas tree, with eyes as the Christmas bulbs.
  • Expy:
  • Fan Disservice: Lauren's shower scene has any potential sexiness removed by the fact that the killer is watching her through a hole, and could strike at any moment. And the fact that she's showering because she drank so much, she's "really smelly" (according to Melissa).
  • Final Girl: Kelli is the final survivor after Leigh is killed off. Glen Morgan however gave several of the girls some characterization that would suggest any one of them could be the Final Girl. Heather for example is Genre Savvy and modest, Melissa is a caring Team Mom, Dana has a take charge attitude, and Leigh has more of a backstory. Kelli averts many Final Girl attributes such as having a boyfriend with whom she's implied to have a sexual relationship, and of course being the lone blonde in the group.
  • Foreshadowing: Dana says "I'd like to bury the hatchet with my sister; right in her head." Agnes kills her with a garden rake to the head.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Dana insists she's not the dainty Daddy's Girl everyone thinks she is, and seems to be a Wrench Wench. Sadly her overconfidence leads to her going into the crawl space alone to fix the power, and being easy prey for the killer.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Agnes had dark hair when she was a sweet kid. As a serial killer, it's now blonde (or possibly grey; it's hard to tell in the movie's vibrant color palette).
  • Gorn: The film is infamous for its explicit gore compared to the original. Characters get their eyes gouged out (and in some cases eaten!), head split in half by ice skates, impaled by icicles and of course getting impaled on a Christmas tree for the killer.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The deaths of the Santa, Heather, and the morgue attendant are not shown. The first is just dragged off, the second is only shown with blood splattering against the window, and the last is possibly able to survive if he gets immediate medical attention.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up:
    • Want to see what a head looks like after it gets sliced by an ice skate? This movie's got you covered.
    • You also see one of the victim's eyes forcibly plucked out while their head is covered with a bag.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Lauren drinks the most out of the sorority.
  • Hate Sink: Constance Lenz is Billy's mother, who locks him in the attic after he witnesses her kill his father. She leaves him there for years while living a seemingly-idyllic life with her new lover. After learning that said lover is infertile, she rapes Billy to produce a daughter. These years of abuse lead Billy to snap and murder her, making her indirectly responsible for the film's carnage.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite appearing like a shallow drinker, Lauren rattles off a list of facts demonstrating a lot of knowledge about Pagan and Pre-Christian traditions.
    • Dana, despite being the girliest of the sorority sisters (spending most of her screen time painting her nails), automatically knows how to fix a broken fuse.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Billy murdered his family on Christmas. Years later, the sorority house becomes a slaughterhouse on Christmas.
  • Hostile Weather: A snowstorm and the accidents it's causing make it so the authorities won't be able to reach the sorority for several hours.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Billy and Agnes turned cannibalistic at some point in their childhoods. Two words: Skingerbread men.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Ms. Mac's death is by an icicle through her mouth and out the back of her head.
    • How Billy ultimately dies, falling over the hospital railing and onto a Christmas tree with a pointy top.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Billy fatally impales his stepfather through the eye with an icicle-shaped ornament and strangles his mother to death with a string of Christmas lights.
  • Improvised Weapon: Christmas ornaments, a rolling pin, a candy cane, an ice skate, a gardening claw, the list goes on.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies play during several suspense scenes. Surprisingly effective.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Kyle gets very rude to the girls, but he is dealing with someone else invading his privacy for revenge porn, and his girlfriend judging him for his sexual past.
    "I wasn't dealing, I wasn't knocking up liquor stores. I didn't hurt anybody."
    • Heather is also quite unpleasant sometimes, but she does have a point that a 'tradition' of leaving a Christmas present for a serial killernote  is a bit tasteless.
  • Kick the Dog: Billy's mother crushing the "Baby's First Christmas" bulb, and later telling him that Santa was shot down by the Russians. Just to hammer home that she's an abuser, and is going to make Billy's life a living hell.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: It is immensely satisfying to see Billy getting revenge on his stepfather and mother for all the things they've done to him. The former being impaled through the head with a Christmas tree topping and the latter being strangled and brutally beaten to death by a rolling pin.
  • Kill the Cutie: Melissa is the nicest of the girls, checking in on everyone and making sure Lauren gets a shower and rest on time. Sadly she meets her end, although she was planned to survive in an earlier draft.
  • Lighter and Softer: Ironic, considering the film is Bloodier and Gorier than its predecessor. But the phone calls in the original were full of profanities and gratuitous use of the C-word. Here, while still creepy, the messages are a bit tamer.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Billy's mother despised his father, and by extension him (the fact that he looked like him only added to that hatred). She and her lover wound up murdering Mr. Lenz, and kept Billy locked up in the attic, presumably only giving him the bare minimum to survive.
  • Man on Fire: Billy and, less severely, Agnes end up in flames when they don't escape the burning sorority in time.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Subverted to the extreme, a rare feat. While the film has a quite a few male casualties, including Billy's Dad, Billy's Stepfather, The Asylum Santa, A Security Guard, A Mortician, and Kyle, the body count in this film is almost entirely made up of the female characters Melissa Kitt, Heather Lee Fitzgerald, Dana Mathis, Lauren Hannon, Clair Crosby, Megan Helms, Eve Agnew, Leigh Colvin, Ms. Mac, Billy's Mom, and Agnes.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: A rare male example. Kelli is shocked and disgusted when she finds out Kyle's sex history, especially that he made sex tapes. The entire sorority kicking him out says that we're supposed to side with her.
  • Mythology Gag: Several, like most remakes: the victims ending up with bags over their heads, the attic being the most important part of the house for the killers, and Andrea Martin as Mrs. MacHenry, who was Phyl in the original Black Christmas.
  • Neck Snap: Leigh dies by Agnes snapping her neck.
  • Nerd Glasses: Eve wears thick-framed glasses to establish her as weird and nerdy.
  • Not Quite Dead: Billy and Agnes survive the sorority house burning down. Subverted in the UK cut, where Billy is, in fact, horribly burned in the fire, and later dies on the operating table.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Justified, Billy and Agnes frequently use the vents and crawlspaces in the house, and again in the hospital.
  • Off with His Head!: Eve's is found decapitated in her car.
  • The One Guy: In a female-dominated cast, Kyle is the only male character with any kind of prominence. Especially as Agnes turns out to be the main killer.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: We have to take Kelli's word for it, but Megan acting extremely rude and shouting "fuck Christmas!" is apparently very out of character - and tips Kelli off that something is wrong.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Whenever Lauren says "about", Crystal Lowe's Canadian accent comes out in full force.
  • Organ Dodge: Kelli stabs Agnes in her glass eye.
  • Parental Incest: Billy's mother rapes him in an insane attempt to impregnate herself. She succeeds.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Agnes favours this look with the left part of her face obscured by her long straggly hair.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Eve is found decapitated. At first they just think she's sitting in her car waiting.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: Clair gets killed when a bag is put over her head, and the fountain pen she'd been using to write her Christmas card is jammed into her eye.
  • Pet the Dog: Billy's dad was the only person who was ever nice to him.
  • Progressively Prettier: While the protagonists of the original were good looking, not all of them were conventionally so. All the girls here - and there are significantly more of them - are supermodel gorgeous, with perfect hair and make-up and flattering wardrobes. Even Mrs Mac, the matronly housemother from the original, is now more attractive; portrayed by Andrea Martin from the original, who aged very well.
  • Rape as Backstory: Obsessed with having another, better child, Mrs. Lenz, after her lover passes out during a bout of drunken sex, goes up to the attic where she keeps her deformed son Billy, and rapes him, successfully giving birth to a daughter nine months later. Suffice it to say, this contributed greatly to Billy's already steady descent into insanity.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Despite the unrealistic nature of Ms. Mac's death with an icicle piercing her eye and popping out of the back of her head, this is actually medically accurate. According to producer James Wong, Ms. Mac played ice hockey in 1962 and was struck in that particular area, had a headache for a few days and recovered without having it checked out allowing the area to soften and become a weak point for the icicle to pierce. There are also known cases where icicles have killed people just by falling on them.
  • Red Herring:
    • Eve, who is obsessed with Billy Lenz, to the point of taking his old room in the sorority house, is initially implied to be the second killer... until they find her body.
    • Leigh is introduced suspiciously only after Clair has disappeared, with a different last name on her ID and would possibly be the right age to be Agnes. But she actually is Clair's half-sister.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Billy in this version is given yellow skin, thanks to jaundice. He was shunned and mistreated for it for years, eventually becoming a killer.
    • Agnes lost an eye as a child, and has a gold-plated fake one to make her look off-putting.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Billy attacks Agnes, who at that point didn't even know Billy existed, and rips one of her eyes out during his rampage against his mother and stepfather.
  • Rich Bitch: Heather is more dour and aloof than outright bitchy, but she's quite rude to Eve when the latter gives her a Christmas present - and she seems quite spoiled and turns into The Load as things go on.
  • Rolling Pin of Doom: Billy beats his mother to death with a rolling pin.
  • Scary Black Man: The asylum guard is more stern than scary, but he keeps the inmates in line. Except Billy of course.
  • Screaming Woman: There's a lot of screaming from Kelli once she's trapped in the wall. But the screaming does serve to let Leigh know where she is.
  • Siblings in Crime: Billy and Agnes are working together, and are in fact both responsible for the killings.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shower Scene: Lauren takes a shower at one point after drinking too much. Naturally the killer spies on her through a hole.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Inverted! The blonde Kelli is the only survivor, while her brunette and redhead friends bite it. Eve however is a blonde and dies.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs:
    • A minor conflict between Heather - who's said to have a "NASCAR daddy" and appears a bit posher than the others - and Lauren - a hard drinker and Lad Ette who's implied to have a lot of tension with her own family.
    Lauren: Run home to Daddy.
    Heather: At least my family wants me to come home.
    • Kyle also calls the sorority sisters "spoiled bitches" and is implied to be working class, while the girls are all upper-middle class.
  • Snow Means Death: The increased heaviness of the snowstorm marks when the main characters start dying. Dana, Mrs Mac and Heather die in quick succession after going out into the blizzard.
  • Snowed-In: Most of the movie takes place at the Delta Alpha Kappa house that's surrounded by snow.
  • The Sociopath: Mrs. Lenz, who kills her first husband, locks her son in the attic because he's deformed and rapes him when she learns her second husband is infertile.
  • Sole Survivor: If going by the theatrical ending, Kelli was the only survivor of the film's massacre.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Melissa appears to be a standard Girly Girl, but then rattles off this gem about Billy Lenz.
    Melissa: No. You see, serial killers murder repeatedly for sexual thrill. Billy Lenz was a spree killer - dude just fucking lost it.note 
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Joyous Christmas carols are heard in the background, coming out of a record player, as Billy beats his mother to death with a rolling pin and makes gingerbread cookies out of her flesh.
  • Southern Belle:
    • Heather is referred to as a "Southern bitch", and Mary Elizabeth Winstead uses a light southern accent for her. She herself is from North Carolina, which is in the southeast, but not often counted as the Deep South.
    • Possibly with Dana too, who's quite a Girly Girl and her actress Lacey Chabert is from Mississippi, but has only a hint of a southern accent. Her last name Mathis is also Cajun.
  • The Stoner: Along with beers, Billy's stepfather has several bongs lying around.
  • Sweater Girl:
    • Kelli wears a flattering white sweater for the whole film, which pays generous service to her assets.
    • Heather as well, though she has a blouse under hers.
  • Team Mom:
    • Mrs Mac is of course the sorority's house mother, and seems to care about the girls a lot (besides Heather anyway).
    • Melissa behaves in quite a caring way to Lauren, ensuring she gets to bed and staying with her while she's too drunk to know what's happening.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Agnes Lenz was conceived by her mother raping her brother. Because of that, Billy is both her father and half-brother.
  • Title Drop: An old newspaper found in Eve's room mentions that Billy's first rampage was dubbed "Black Christmas".
  • Trailers Always Lie: This film's trailer soon became infamous for featuring a lot of footage that was never part of the film - and in fact got shot just for promotional purposes, behind the director's back. Most notably a shot of Dana being dragged, a girl trapped under a frozen lake, and Melissa threatening someone with a shotgun. All of them can be viewed here.
  • Two-Faced: Billy, after he's burned, has significant damage done to half his face.
  • Tuckerization: In the beginning of the film Ms. Mac asks who is not present for the secret Santa gift exchange. Two of the names mentioned are Chelsea and Greer. Chelsea is the name of Glen Morgan's daughter from his marriage to Cindy Morgan who is also Kristen Cloke's stepdaughter. Greer is the name of Kristen Cloke and Glen Morgan's youngest child.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Billy and Agnes somehow surviving the sorority house fire. Subverted in one of the alternate endings where Billy dies from his burns in the hospital.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Both Billy and Agnes used to be normal children, until the cycle of abuse turned them into deranged cannibalistic serial killers.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In a "making-of" featurette, one of the filmmakers offhandedly mentions Billy's origin was partly inspired by Edmund Kemper.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Billy's mother is very satisfyingly reduced to a crying, shrieking wreck as she watches Billy eats Agnes' eye and kill his stepfather.
  • Voice Changeling: Agnes, which she uses to call the sorority with creepy messages. We're lead to believe it's Billy, but it turns out that it was Agnes doing a male voice.
  • The Voiceless: Possibly due to his imprisoned lifestyle, Billy rarely speaks.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Lauren throws up in the bathroom during Kelli and Kyle's argument, and we aren't spared the sight.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Billy and Agnes survive their burns and kill the morgue attendant.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Both Clair and Megan factor into the story - Clair for her sister turning up to look for her, and Megan for the sex tape she had with Kyle - but are killed off very early.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: After witnessing his father's murder at the hands of his bitch of a mother's jerkass lover, being locked up in the attic for several years and being raped by his mother in order to conceive a child, it's no wonder why Billy cracked up and became an axe crazy lunatic.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Dana hears a noise under the crawl space and without even going in, taunts "Eve, I can hear you" - but it turns out the killer is behind her and not Eve.
  • You Killed My Father: Not stated directly, but as Billy's father was the only person to give a damn about him, his brutal killing of his mother was undoubtedly motivated by his death as well as vengeance.

Alternative Title(s): Black X Mas

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