Thursday, December 02, 2021

Silent Night: Last Christmas, Ever

It is sort of like The Big Chill, but the suicide[s] haven’t happened yet. Unfortunately, the world is ending, so a group of old college friends decided to spend their last Christmas together before the inevitable. The government says we’re doomed, so it must be true, right? One of the kids is not so sure and he is willing to risk it in director-screenwriter Camille Griffin’s Silent Night, which releases in theaters and streams on AMC+ tomorrow.

Frankly, even if you had decades of holidays ahead of you, it is hard to imagine wanting to spend even one with some of these obnoxious people. The worst are Sandra, who clearly thinks she is Kim Cattrall’s
Sex and the City character, her dopey husband Tony, and their massively spoiled daughter Kitty. The caustic Bella and her passive girlfriend Alex are not much fun either. Frankly, James and Sophie are far and away the most likable, but everyone is against her, because the younger woman is not part of their clique. Ordinarily, Nell and Simon are probably decent enough, in a British upper-crust kind of way, but they are on edge and trying way too hard. Their disgustingly precocious and sensitive son Art is not making things any easier.

For some strange reason Art is not ready to just give up and die. As in many end-of-the-world movies,
Silent Night is cagey about the exact “science” of the apocalypse. Apparently, it involves a green cloud sweeping the planet. Regardless, it is surely our fault somehow. Fortunately, the British government has supplied all legal residents with a handy no-more-mornings-after pill. Yet, Sophie is reluctant to take it, because she is pregnant.

There is something in
Silent Night to rub everyone the wrong way. Not bothered by the vacuous characters or a gratuitous swipe at the UK Conservatives? Well, maybe you will be put off by its invitation to doubt the pronouncements of governments and so-called “science” authorities (like, I don’t know, Fauci maybe?). As a result, you really have to respect Griffin for staking out some a-plague-on-both-your-houses territory. However, the people are still horrifyingly cringy.

Actually, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode (as Nell and Simon) are the most successful mining this grim material for absurdist comedy. Sope Dirisu (from
Gangs of London) and Lily Rose-Depp (as James and Sophie) arguably do the most to humanize the film. However, Art’s petulance gets to be like fingernails on a blackboard, even though there is a half-decent chance he could be right. Plus, Annabelle Wallis is so over-the-top as Sandra, she will just give you a headache.

Regardless of how you take things, there is definitely a worthy message in
Silent Night, suggesting it might be better to fight against the dying of the night, rather than going gentle. Honestly, it is hard to get a handle on this film, because it is so annoying and yet so satirically on-target and zeitgeisty. Recommended for Bill Maher and those of similar attitude and temperament, Silent Night opens tomorrow night (12/3) at the Drafthouse Brooklyn and will also be available on AMC+.