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Film / Black Christmas (2019)

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"I will bring you to your knees."
"I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of running!"
Riley Stone

Black Christmas (2019) is a 2019 horror flick, and a loose remake of the 1974 original directed by Sophia Takal (Always Shine), written by April Wolfe, and starring Imogen Poots and Cary Elwes.

It's the winter holidays, and on the Hawthorne College campus, a mysterious killer is murdering sorority girls. And when Riley and her sisters come under fire, they have to engage in a fight for survival where finding out who kills and why might be the only hope...

Previews: Trailer.


Black Christmas (2019) contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Riley, Kris, Landon, and the sorority girls of the other house.
  • Asshole Victim: Brian, Gelson, Helena.
  • An Axe to Grind: Nate grabs the hatchet used to chop firewood and uses it to defend the girls against Black Mask. Black Mask takes it off him and uses it to kill Marty.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In one shot, it appears as though the dying Marty is going to call the police to get help. The campus security arrives... at a different sorority house which is also getting attacked by the AKO fraternity.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Riley and the surviving sorority girls destroy the AKO fraternity and rescue Landon. However, Nate and many others are dead and it's left questionable if many of the members of AKO were actually evil since they were being mind controlled by the strange goo, meaning that they may have killed potential innocent victims and are essentially mass murderers. And considering how sexist the campus police force are it's likely that they'll be arrested for mass murder. Worse, the post-credit scene shows their pet cat licking the black goo.
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  • Black Dude Dies First: Downplayed. Of the four main girls, the first to die is Jess, who is black. That being said, Kris, Landon, Oona and an unnamed black sorority sister survive the film.
  • The Cavalry: When Riley is about to be sacrificed by the frat, she's saved by the arrival of Kris and the girls she had saved from the other sorority, who starts beating the hell out of the frat boys.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The comb Riley gives to Helena at the beginning. It is the possession of hers that marks her as a target for the fraternity, and kicks off the final scene. See Combat Haircomb below.
  • Combat Haircomb: When Riley is forced to kneel at Brian's feet in the frat house, she grabs the comb that had been stolen from her earlier off the altar and uses it to rake Brian's face.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Riley and Kris are fleeing from the killer in the sorority house. The run into kitchen and crouch down at the far end of the kitchen island, out of sight of the door. They hear the killer enter and his footsteps slowly advancing towards their hiding spot. However, before he reaches the end of the island, he stops, turns around and walks out. It is actually a trick to make them think it is safe to come out.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster at the top of the page depicts Riley, Kris, Jess, and Marty as if they will come out on top. However, Jess dies when the frat members invade the sorority house en masse without fighting any of them while Marty is dispatched soon thereafter. Only Riley and Kris survive the film.
  • Female Misogynist: Helena.
  • Final Girl: Averted. Riley is made out to be the final girl archetype in that she's shy, kindhearted, and generally good-natured. Kris, who also survives the film, is overtly political, passionate about her beliefs about equality, and blunt in personality, which doesn't always fit in the stereotypical final girl image that most modern slasher films like to project. Additionally, there are other sorority girls - from other houses attacked by the frat members - who survive as well, as does Landon.
  • Food Slap: When Phil makes a rape joke at Riley's expense in the cafe, Kris throws a glass of water in his face.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Professor Gelson and the fraternity, to the point that they murder women who "don't know their place" (i.e. are smart and independent). Though since the fraternity members are revealed to be mind-controlled, it's hard to say if they actually are this or if it's just the mind control.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The film is set at, uh, Christmas.
  • In Name Only: It's a Slasher Movie set on a girl's sorority at Christmas. And that's all it has in common with the original. The biggest changes are that there's multiple killers, the killers are being controlled (and granted superhuman physical prowess) by some demonic black goo, and that the killers are explicitly motivated by murderous misogynistic beliefs induced by said black goo; the original film revolved around a single human killer who relied on stealth and cunning to pick the girls off one by one, and whose motivation is the generic "murderous psychopath" common for mundane-type slashers.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Riley basically does this for a moment, pretending that she'll kneel to Brian just to get a chance to attack him.
  • Jerkass: All the male characters bar Landon and Nate, but special mention goes to Professor Gelson and Brian Huntley. Again, with The Reveal, the actual character of some of the fraternity members is unknown.
  • Jump Scare: A lot.
  • Karma Houdini: Brian is the head of the fraternity and a rapist, but he got away with it scot free. At the end, the warranty expires and Riley kills him.
  • Man on Fire: Kris throws a lamp at the feet of Professor Gelson which ignites the black ooze seeping from the bust of Calvin Hawthorne: This sets fire to him, and the fire soon spreads to the rest of the frat house.
  • The Mole: Helena apparently believes in the frat's stance on the position of women, and acts a mole inside the sorority: stealing the items the frat uses to track their victims.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • One of the girls is named Jess Bradford, the name of the protagonist of that film. However, this Jess explicitly dies, while in the original, it's unclear if that Jess survives or not.
    • The main sorority house has the address of 1974 Elm Road, both a reference to the year the original film came out and a possible reference to A Nightmare on Elm Street (one of that film's actors, John Saxon, was also in the 1974 Black Christmas).
    • When Kris finds Jess' dead body, she's lying in a chair in the darkened attic. In the original film, Clare's dead body is in a similar position in the attic (though, unlike this movie, she's never found by anyone).
    • Riley suffocates one of the fraternity guys with a plastic dress bag when he attempts to strangle Kris. This is the same way the aforementioned Clare dies in the original film.
    • The fact that Fran's body is never found in this film also echoes Clare's fate in the original film.
    • Helena's mother attempts to find her daughter when she fails to arrive home, similar to both Mr. Harrison in the 1974 film and Leigh in the 2006 remake. Though she never appears onscreen like those two.
    • The first victim of the movie, Lindsay, dies in a similar manner to the house mother from the 2006 remake: both die by stab wounds caused by icicles.
  • Neck Snap: Black Mask kills Helena this way during the ritual in the frat house.
  • Nice Guy: Landon and Nate among a cast of jerkass men. The former is purely this trope through and through. The latter calls out the women on their Straw Feminist nature and misandry and leaves, but still comes back after the sorority is attacked and helps out, though it gets him killed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The surviving sisters send Landon into the fraternity to act as a distraction. It gets him possessed and almost turned into another murderer. They're lucky Landon actually managed to break the possession.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The film doesn't do much to hide that Gelson, a university professor whose reactionary views on women's roles are expressed through his repeated clashes with campus activists, is an unflattering parody of Jordan Peterson.
    • Gelson is also supposed to be a satire of Brett Kavanaugh, whose trial inspired the movie.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Both intentional and attempted due to lower the rating from R to PG-13. One example includes the audience never exactly finding out what happened to Jess only seeing Kris' shocked reaction to turning her body around to face her.
  • Odd Name Out: Not obvious at first, but four of the five main female characters (Riley, Kris, Marty, and Jess) has masculine or unisex names. The fifth, Helena, turns out to be The Mole working for the fraternity/cult.
  • Police are Useless: The police don't believe Riley when she reports her sexual assault and don't believe her again when she comes to report Helena's disappearance. The moment campus security does try to do something, however, they get killed seconds after arriving at a different sorority house.
  • Rape as Drama: Brian sexually assaulted Riley three years ago and was never punished for it. She eventually kills him.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Helena, who betrayed her sorority to the killer fraternity, is killed by said fraternity to make a point.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The storyline about Riley's rape by fraternity president Ryan was most likely inspired by the Brock Turner case.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Riley, Kris, Marty and Jesse wear these during the talent show at the frat house. (Helena was originally supposed to one of the quartet, and was seen wearing the dress, but she got drunk and Riley took her place.)
  • Shout-Out: The sorority sisters' Sexy Santa Dress dance during the talent show is this to the Plastics' similar performance from Mean Girls.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Kris.
  • Sole Survivor: Played With gender wise, as Landon is the sole male character to survive the movie.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Women should stand up for themselves against entitled men and the evil black goo that's mind-controlling them.
  • Token Good Teammate: Basically applies to Landon, who only joins the fraternity because he was temporarily brainwashed by the bust and snaps out of it when Riley breaks it. Though it's debatable if any of them are actually evil on their own due to The Reveal.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers give away the fact that the frat is behind the murders, but they do manage to leave out the supernatural element behind their killings.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Multiple scenes in the promotional footage have been altered with CGI to include the killer. These include a version of the scene where Helena is brushing her teeth with the killer standing behind her (in the movie, she is all alone), and a scene where the girls unmask the killer, only to find the college founder's head statue behind it. There is also a modified scene where Riley closes the door of Helena's room, only to reveal the killer standing behind it.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Despite Helena helping them, the fraternity still kill her to make a point.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: If Kris hadn't petitioned to get the bust of Hawthorne removed from the main building, the frat would never have discovered the power it had and the murders would never have happened. Of course, how could Kris have known or even thought of that?
  • World of Jerkass: A rather typical trait in slashers. The men are jerks and/or killers, the women are superficial and insufferable, and everyone is sexist in one way or another. Riley and Landon are the only exceptions.
  • Wham Shot: The reveal that the sorority house where Riley, Kris, and Marty are living in isn't the only sorority house being attacked.

"Ho-ho-ho, bitch. You messed with the wrong sisters."

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