Clint Howard watching a flaming corpse fly off a roof? Now THAT’S how you start a movie! Between this, Reggie Bannister and Allyce Beasley (the receptionist from Moonlighting), I have high hopes for this film. Seeing Brian Yuzna in the director’s chair is another good sign. The director of Return of the Living Dead 3 (arguably the most iconic of the series with it’s pierced heroine) and several of the Re-Animator films, this is a guy who gets how to make a solid, memorable piece of horror, especially a sequel. He also knows enough to hire someone like Screamin’ Mad George to sling latex and create horrific monster FX, not to mention bringing Full Moon alumni Richard Band along to do music.
We find ourselves in the bullpen of a newspaper with a classifieds clerk who wants to break in to reporting and thinks the jumper, being ruled a suicide, is her big break. She heads to the jump site where the chalk outline is still fresh and encounters Clint Howard – “Ricky”, as she browses books on spontaneous combustion. He’s a creepy homeless person who follows her to the roof as she checks out the ledge the victim jumped from. Cockroaches seem to follow her home – a problem that will escalate around the half hour mark with the most terrifying giant roach I’ve ever seen, a skull airbrushed into it back. It almost feels like our slasher series is morphing into a horror edged fantasy as our reporter drifts into nightmarish visions.
There’s nothing particularly Christmassy about this story of a young woman, being initiated into a coven of witches. No real connection to the rest of the Silent Night series either unless Clint Howard’s “Ricky” is meant to be Ricky Cauldwell, somehow still alive and now having grown some skin over that brain box from the last film. It’s possible. He almost hints at it during a scene where he watches the dream sequence from SNDN3 and answers “Santa Claus Killer” when asked who he is. He serves the witches and I suppose they could have magically shoved his brain down and generate some flesh to cover it.
In any event, the creepy FX are spectacular and the dreamlike confusion of the film give it a “Serpent and the Rainbow” kind of feel. It’s actually a really good film on it’s own, but feel like it should be it’s own thing and not a part of this franchise. That’s kind of ironic, because it may just be the single best film in this series. No worries though, the crew will be back for the next entry too.