Reviewed by Adam Donato
[L-R] Lucy Punch, Hardy Griffin Davis, Roman Griffin Davis, Gilby Griffin Davis, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Annabelle Wallis, Davida McKenzie, Rufus Jones, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù in the drama/horror SILENT NIGHT, an AMC+ and RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of AMC+ and RLJE Films.
Silent Night is the first full length picture written and directed by Camille Griffin. It’s a story about a group of family and friends who come together to celebrate one last Christmas together. The cast features some recognizable faces in Annabelle Wallis, Kiera Knightley, Matthew Goode, Lily-Rose Depp, and Roman Griffin Davis. The film is labeled as a comedy-horror, but plays mostly like a drama. Does this Christmas flick have enough to make it stand out among the rest this holiday season?
This movie is actually really good. It’s reasonable to see audiences thrown off by the tone of the movie since it’s labeled as a horror-comedy. There’s plenty of dark humor in this movie, somewhat akin to that of Krampus. Also, if the movie is a horror movie, it is not your traditional jump scare horror with killers, monsters, or ghosts. It’s more scary because of the ideas that the characters discuss throughout the movie. They all know they are going to die because of a widespread environmental disaster and there’s an exit pill they each have that will assist them in ending their lives without suffering. The moral debates that are had between the characters about this situation are very intriguing. The main emotion induced from this movie would have to be sadness. So where there are elements of comedy and horror. The family drama is really where this movie shines.
The performances are all very good. This is a big part of the movie’s success as it is just ninety minutes of a dozen characters locked up in a big house the entire movie. Roman Griffin Davis is certainly the biggest standout. He really burst onto the scene in Jojo Rabbit and it's exciting to see him sustain this level of quality. It’s definitely an ensemble, but the kid is given the most to work with and takes advantage of it. Goode and Knightley are both also holding their own in this movie. Their actions seem off until it’s revealed the context of the situation and from then on everything they do is so heavy. They just wanted to have one last great night. While it was funny to enjoy the disaster that is a family and friends holiday gathering, it’s depressing to see them act like this during their final hours.
The pacing of the movie is great. It’s a crisp ninety minutes and the movie is all the better for it. The writing is definitely one of the highlights of the movie. There’s a couple different subgroups at this gathering and they all have their own type of moral dilemma within their situation. Each of their conclusions feel satisfying as the ending in general is wrapped up pretty well.
Silent Night is certainly a pleasant surprise of a movie. It will be interesting to follow Griffin as a writer/director to see what she does next. It’s too bad this movie is not getting a big theatrical run because it would definitely stand up among the rest and satisfy audiences. Hopefully this movie finds an audience on streaming because it is good enough to warrant viewership. It's much deeper than most other horror-comedies and a good time to watch.
Silent Night hits theaters and AMC+ on December 3.