Today’s feature is a 2009 yule-tide tale of the rising undead: Silent Night, Zombie Night.
Silent Night, Zombie Night was written, edited, produced, and directed by Sean Cain, who also made the films Jurassic City and Naked Beneath the Water, and cut Sand Sharks, Rise of the Dinosaurs, and a handful of documentaries.
The cinematographer for the film was Jim Wright, who has almost exclusively worked in reality television, on shows like The Millionaire Matchmaker, Beyond Scared Straight, Addicted To Beauty, and Million Dollar Listing.
The effects team for Silent Night, Zombie Night included Megan Nicoll (Zombeavers, Titanic II, Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Evil Bong 3-D), Dominic Alfano (Poultrygeist), Tom Devlin (Daredevil, Club Dread), Tina Shults (Transmorphers: Fall of Man), and Jeff Leroy (Werewolf In A Women’s Prison, Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong).
The musical score for the movie was provided by Mario Salvucci, whose other credits include Jurassic City, Sand Sharks, and Rise of the Dinosaurs, all of which also involved writer/director/editor/producer Sean Cain.
The plot of Silent Night, Zombie Night is summarized on IMDb as follows:
A week before Christmas a viral outbreak turns the citizens of Los Angeles into the walking dead. On the brink of severing ties with both his wife and longtime partner, L.A.P.D. officer Frank Talbot finds himself trapped with them. As death closes in their survival is further threatened by the fact that both men love the same woman.
Silent Night, Zombie Night currently holds a 4.5 user rating on IMDb, alongside an audience aggregate score of 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, although barely 1000 reviews have been recorded between both sites.
As I expected going in, this movie unavoidably looks cheap from top to bottom, but that is something that is only particularly obvious whenever gunshots or other semi-sophisticated effects were necessary. However, the zombies could certainly look worse given what must have been a very stringent budget. If anything, I think they might have gone too far overboard with some of the zombies, to the point that they seem more like monsters than human corpses. Regardless, I was impressed with the makeup work.
Silent Night, Zombie Night is a movie that certainly doesn’t waste any time getting started: instead of building a tense atmosphere or a sense of foreboding, the zombie attacks starts as soon as the camera is rolling. The break-neck pace doesn’t last long, however, thanks to a middle section that drags on aimlessly for far too long. While I didn’t mind the conclusion, the time it took to get there didn’t feel fully justified. That said, there is a nugget of a really good zombie story buried within Silent Night, Zombie Night, but it this team didn’t seem to have the talent or the finances to see it through to reality. There are still flashes of entertainment that shine through at times, but the overall experience of the movie is kind of dull. That said, I went in with very low expectations, and I think it is fair to say that Silent Night, Zombie Night is a rare highlight from the garbage/bargain bin.
The nail in the coffin for me in regards to this movie is that it isn’t really much of a theme movie: the Christmas setting feels like something that was added in at the last minute in a desperate marketing ploy for an audience. I’ll admit that it worked, because I wouldn’t have bought or watched the movie otherwise, but it doesn’t do anything for the content itself. Outside of a few Christmas lights and a Santa zombie, don’t expect a zombie-infested winter wonderland in this movie, because you won’t find it.
Overall, this movie was better than I expected, but not good enough that I would implore anyone to go dig it up. There are still a lot of amateurish aspects to it that are impossible to overlook, like an unnecessary and tonally inappropriate Reservoir Dogs pastiche in the first act. That said, there are surprisingly some bright spots in the human drama aspect of the story, even if the characters weren’t written with as much depth or consistency as they could have been.