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Silent Night Main

Silent Night Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Altitude Film

article-cover

Written and directed by Camille Griffin
2021, 92 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 3rd December 2021

Starring:
Keira Knightley as Nell
Matthew Goode as Simon
Roman Giriffin Davis as Art
Annabelle Wallis as Sandra

Review:

A group of friends convene at a country mansion to celebrate their last Christmas together. With the alcohol being knocked back at a rate of knots and a growing atmosphere of simmering resentment and very real pervading fear, the party quickly spirals out of control. Still, it’s not the end of the world. Or is it?

As lethal gas clouds ravage the country, the UK prepares for the End of Days with a quick and painless suicide pill, supplied by the government (the movie's biggest stretch, assuming that a Tory government cares enough about anyone to grant a quick and merciful death). A pact has been made, and posh parents Nell (Keira Knightley) and Simon (Matthew Goode) are ready to pop their pills in the early hours of Boxing Day, along with their three children and old grammar school chums. Little Art (Roman Griffin Davis) has his doubts though, and his panicked, emotional outbursts frequently threaten to put a downer on the last Christmas any of them will ever experience.

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This Christmassy take on the Bitchy Dinner Party subgenre (see also: The Dinner Party, The Invitation) recalls star Keira Knightley’s earlier foray into the apocalyptic comedy, following 2012’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Camille Griffin’s black comedy is more acerbic and less sentimental than all that, but equally devastating. For all the one-liners, satirical snark and amusing vulgarities, the film packs a surprising emotional heft, and one of the bleakest horror sequences since The War of the Worlds’ bodies-in-the-water bit. 

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On top of the imminently reliable Knightley and Goode, the stacked cast includes the likes of Lucy Punch, Rufus Jones and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, each bringing a unique (if familiar) flavour to the party. That flavour? Distinctly Waitrose. The characters may be hard to like, but they’re clearly defined and sharply-written, and the actors share a great sense of chemistry. Given the magnitude of what they face, can you blame anyone for being a bit annoying? While the constant sniping, biting and swearing threatens to undermine the film’s more tender moments, it’s anchored by a strong performance from young Roman Griffin Davis (star of Jojo Rabbit, and son of this film’s writer-director), who shares the film’s best scenes with onscreen dad Matthew Goode.

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Indeed, Silent Night could have quite happily pared down some of its excesses to hone in on what really works – Simon and Nell’s family unit; the cynical Bella (Punch) and shitfaced Alex (Howell-Baptiste); the truly horrifying horror sequences. The dialogue sparkles as we learn of the state of wider England - the Queen hunkered down in a bunker somewhere; Tories leaving immigrants and the homeless to die in agony (no stretch at all). There's a great bit by Lucy Punch on 2009's The Road. And, with plenty of Buble on the soundtrack, this is one Christmas horror story that doesn’t skimp on the Christmas, either. It's a bleak Love, Actually segment crossed with The Mist; a festive Melancholia.

Straddling a line between regular seasonal misery and an elevated apocalyptic and existential dread, this is an assured feature debut from Griffin. It doesn’t make for the merriest Christmas viewing, but it’s horrifyingly plausible and discomfortingly relatable, Waitrose or no Waitrose.

Grades:

Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover
Buy Amazon Uk

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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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