Black Christmas

Starring Michelle Trachtenberg and Katie Cassidy. Rated 18A.

In 1974, a Canadian horror film was loosed upon the world and became a cult classic. This slice ’em and dice ’em was the forerunner to the Halloween franchise and slasher flicks like When a Stranger Calls. Titled Black Christmas, it chronicled the terrorization of sorority sisters by an insane-asylum escapee who once lived in their house. In the meantime, also in 1974, Ted Bundy was killing female students off-screen, in a spree that, eerily, progressed to him strangling and bludgeoning his way through a Chi Omega sorority house in Florida in 1978. Depending on whether the fictitious or real-life coed slaughters have been emblazoned on your consciousness, you’ll either cheer or be utterly repulsed by director Glen Morgan’s Black Christmas remake.

In the new Black Christmas, a gaggle of dreary, salty-mouthed sorority sisters (Michelle Trachtenberg, Katie Cassidy, and Vancouverites Crystal Lowe and Leela Savasta) are languishing around their Delta Alpha Kappa crib with their house mother (original cast member Andrea Martin, unable to raise a titter here). As boring as lumps of coal, most are also brunette, so we know what to expect when the gals can’t outrun the guy who turns up and wants to gouge their eyes out.

Packed with anti-Christmas tirades, Black Christmas may actually be an appropriate seasonal offering for a culture that worships girls gone wild more than the Virgin Mary. Forget John Lennon; vulnerable, nubile babes in PJs are way more popular than Jesus Christ, and for some, a forcefully thrown figure skate slashing open a young woman’s skull and cookie cutters ground into a woman’s back are merely the 2006 pagan equivalents to spikes being hammered into the son of God’s wrists.

As predictable as it is, Black Christmas lacks both the corny and the gut-curdling, jump-out-of-your-skin moments worth shrieking about over gingerbread lattes later. What it possesses instead is unrelenting gore, accompanied by the screams and torture of helpless women. Bundy would have loved it.