Talk about a bad Santa. In the mechanically effective horror thriller "Silent Night," said to be "loosely based" on 1984's apparently reboot-worthy "Silent Night, Deadly Night," a psycho in a creepy St. Nick costume goes on a murderous Christmas Eve rampage in small town Cryer, Wisc.
The movie's intended audience will likely be satisfied by its parade of gory mayhem, cheap thrills and groan-worthy dark humor. Everyone else: You're on your own.
The logic-challenged story finds Cryer's earnest deputy sheriff, Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King), in the midst of a mounting body count as sinners, saints and anyone in between land at the wrong end of Santa's weapon of choice (ax, flamethrower, stuffed moose head, you name it; a grisly wood chipper scene rivals the one from "Fargo").
Unfortunately, Aubrey, who's tentative and haunted by past events, may not be up to going toe-to-toe with the various Santa-suited suspects — some of whom are crazy angry — hanging around town for the annual holiday parade.
As a result, Aubrey's nasty boss, the ridiculously unprofessional Sheriff Cooper (a miscast, over-the-top Malcolm McDowell) takes charge, but it's easy to predict where this guy's hair-trigger involvement will lead.
Director Steven C. Miller, working off Jayson Rothwell's pedestrian script, keeps the action apace, gleefully letting the blood spurt and limbs fly. Happy holidays.
"Silent Night." MPAA rating: R for bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity, language and brief drug use. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Regency's Plant 16, Van Nuys; AMC's Orange 30, Orange.