The concept behind Camille Griffin’s holiday black comedy Silent Night had potential, but the tonal balance of the film betrays the comedy elements, melodrama, and warped sentimentality. It sets out to make a Hallmark moment Holiday extravaganza while looking directly into the eye of impending doom. The ensemble piece takes center stage at the end of the world slash Christmas get-together, as the script slowly but surely reveals more damning plot details.
The guest fates are not made explicit right away, as the first half-hour does play as an innocent family comedy with raunchy, biting satirical humor thrown in randomly. It’s only in the second half of the film does the tone takes a sharp left turn into the apocalypse and even then, it still feels like a running joke amongst the group and not a real threat. For a massive electro ball of poison quickly descending onto these people, it’s hard to sense even the tiniest bit of fear in their delivery. It mainly leans into the comedy, unsuccessfully I might add despite fun performances from Roman Griffin Davis and Annabelle Wallis, but then later expects us to be along for the ride when it gets maliciously dark and sad. It was difficult to keep up with where the direction was going and many of the emotional setups got lost.
Silent Nights at its best when the cast is being unnecessarily cady with one another and the surface-level discussion turns into deeply personal moments. But again, these moments seemingly come out of nowhere and don’t lead to anything. There are many plot points brought up and then never spoken of again.
I do admire the concept behind the film, but the execution is lacking. It needed a more thorough through line of emotion and not such a jerky balance of tone. The comedy writing never really gets off the ground and loses all value later in the film.
★★ (out of 5)