The main reason that most horror fans complain when they hear about remakes is, well, they enjoy the original films, and they know how this machine works by now: a new (and usually terrible) horror film uses the title (and perhaps the basic premise) of a well-known (or at least "known") older film -- and even a mild fan of the horror genre knows that most of the recent remakes are mediocre, bad, or plain old awful. Making matters worse is that producers rarely seem to try anything "new" with these remakes; just the same old generic package that leaves the loyal patrons of scary cinema wondering why anyone bothered.
But about 2 out of 5 horror remakes are what one could call watchable, decent, or surprisingly good, and most of these remakes have something in common: A) they started out by choosing an "original" horror movie that's a real piece of junk, and/or B) they use their source material as a springboard for something completely different. The unexpectedly amusing, brutal, and energetic Silent Night -- which is a remake of the notoriously controversial 1984 slasher junk-pile Silent Night, Deadly Night -- has only a few tenuous connections to the first flick, and this ends up working to the film's credit in a big way. Whereas Silent Night, Deadly Night is a chintzy, grungy, mean-spirited amateur hour experience with lots of rape and rotten acting, the "remake" is more of a tongue-in-bloody-cheek slasher flick throwback to the early days of the 1980s -- which is when we were treated to numerous B-level horror flicks that were a lot more entertaining than Silent Night, Deadly Night.
You want a plot synopsis? Sure: a sleepy little town that runs an annual "Santa Parade" has a new visitor: a Fake Santa with a serious grudge, as you'll soon see, and he clearly will not rest until 75% of the town's characters have been sliced, diced, nailed or impaled with something seasonal yet deadly. To its credit, Silent Night boasts a body count that keeps on climbing, and it'd take a lot more than some clunky editing and a few muddled back-stories (delivered mostly by flashback) to extinguish the fun found here. Aside from an appreciable dose of crazy carnage (some of it even practical!) and a tone that wavers between self-deprecating and old-school shock value. Silent Night is rarely scary, but it's barely trying to be. Backed by some strong work by Jaime King and Malcoim McDowell as a pair of unlikely cops, makes up for in pace and color what it lacks in logic and story.
It may be damning this fun flick with faint praise to compare it to the remakes of Mother's Day, The Crazies, and Toolbox Murders, but these are examples of remakes that actually manage to improve upon their admittedly weak predecessors. Whether or not Silent Night will enjoy the controversy or the shelf life of Silent Night, Deadly Night remains to be seen, but this straightforward and scrappy little remake is somehow more entertaining than half of what passes for "wide release" horror movies these days. Toss in some fine cinematography, some cool musical touches, and just enough "in jokes" to keep the hardcore horror fans happy, Silent Night certainly isn't great, but it is consistently fun, and that's more than enough -- especially for a horror remake.