Black Christmas, released in 1974, is considered by many horror aficionados as the first true slasher. Whether you agree with this statement or not, one fact remains : Black Christmas is a groundbreaking film. The director, Bob Clark, also brought us another fantastic Holiday-themed film : A Christmas Story. While Black Christmas and A Christmas Story are on opposite sides of the genre spectrum, they do have one thing in common : Bob Clark knows how to film Christmas and create that unique Holiday atmosphere, whether for comedy or horror purposes.
The story takes place during Christmas break, in a sorority house. The sorority sisters are receiving strange phone calls. The situation escalates when a man penetrates into the house and kills one of the girls. While the police investigates, the phone calls continue and more murders occurr until they realize the calls are coming from inside the house.
You don’t really expect to be genuinely scared from a 1970´s slasher but Black Christmas remains effective to this day. The first murder has become the iconic image associated with the film : the girl being suffocated with a plastic bag over her head. The scene is intense and no matter how many times it is shown, seeing that dead body with its head wrapped in a plastic bag, eyes opened, sends chills down your spine. The body is displayed by the killer next to the attic window during the entire movie for the whole world to see though nobody ever notices it. Everyone is so focused on their own problems that they become oblivious to the obvious. The body next to the window is only one example of the amazing shots throughout the film : it is very well directed and well shot.
The acting is overall very good and though we don’t see him much, the killer is the highlight of the film. The killer stalker is extremely scary and hiding him in the dark really enhances his mysterious and frightening aura. The phone calls are the scariest parts of the film. The voice and the delivery of the lines are simply petrifying. Every scene involving the killer is genuinely creepy. The famous shot of the killer’s eye terrorized me ! The film starts with a first-person-view angle and the technique is used several times…does this remind you of John Carpenter’s Halloween ? Well, it should ! And it is further proof that Black Christmas inspired the famous slashers from the following decades.
Black Christmas is an amazing slasher, and whether it was the first of its kind or not, nobody can deny that it helped define an entire genre. With its creepy atmosphere, good acting, great shots and intense scenes, Black Christmas is an absolute must-see !