I’ll just state the facts for the record: BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019), directed by Sophia Takal and written by Takal and April Wolfe is a perfectly crafted and executed modern slasher that actually moves the genre of horror and the subgenre of slasher films forward. The creators of this film and the film itself deserve much better than the reception they have gotten, but as I told both of these women, time will tell the truth about how great a film BLACK CHRISTMAS really is.

There is an active campaign of trolls on social media dedicated to watching the mentions of the film so they can swoop down and insult it and try to frighten anyone who speaks well of it into silence and to harass the creators. I am sad to say that, at least for opening weekend, this campaign seems to have been somewhat successful. It’s like many other campaigns launched by sexists for some very specific reasons. The stated reason is that women’s inferior abilities or opinions are desecrating something that these trolls hold dear. Here are some examples.

  • Gamergate: supposedly about “ethics in video game journalism – but really a targeted harassment campaign against a man’s ex-girlfriend (read more here)
  • Leslie Jones: a campaign against the actress because she had the temerity to star in a female reboot of Ghostbusters (read more here)
  • Lindy West: trying to shut a woman journalist who was vocal about women’s issue, particularly abortion, up (read more here)
  • Kelly Ann Tran: over Star Wars fans dislike of her character and fear of diversity in the series (read more here and here)
  • Brie Larsen and Captain Marvel: online trolls try to “review bomb” the film on Rotten Tomatoes to try to convince people the movie is bad to ruin Larsen’s career and the film because she dared to make a comment about not wanting “40-year-old white men to tell her what to think” (read more here)
Image courtesy of IMDB

Circling back to BLACK CHRISTMAS, there has been a deliberate online campaign to ruin the movie’s box office in the opening weekend and to destroy the film’s reputation and keep viewers away and by extension, destroy the film and the female filmmakers who dared to make it. 

The question is why and the answer is very simple. It is contained within the film itself. These men, because the trolls are overwhelmingly male, are very afraid of a film that shows women unwilling to simply accept that rape and sexual assault as a fact of life that they must submit to, especially in college, and that they have every right as human beings to fight back. It offends these men to see the facts of campus rape and rape, in general, to be so boldly stated and they like to whine about how there are no positive male characters to right what they consider an unfair message. However, this statement gives lie to their claim that they have actually watched the movie.

There are actually at least two “positive” male characters who are allies of the female leads. Had these rubes actually watched the movie, they would know that. They would also know that the film has a female traitor within it as well, so it’s not like that particular aspect is overlooked. I even doubt that the 1974 version of BLACK CHRISTMAS is even the classic that they hold it out to be in their trumpetings. I doubt that most of these clowns have ever watched it either because the Bob Clark film has more than one mouthy and willful female character. Olivia Hussey’s character actually insists on having an abortion no matter how angry it makes her controlling boyfriend and Margo Kidder is just awesome as always and tells the heavy breathing killer who is harassing the sorority sisters via landline to go fuck himself. Like the plot points and characters in the 2019 version, these are facts that this online bully brigade has no idea about. 

Imogen Poots in BLACK CHRISTMAS | Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

I call bullshit.

The movie’s theme, including the supernatural ending – which has thrown many an astute reviewer for a loop, is that women face an overwhelming force that insists that they toe the line and accept being victims of frat boys who like violating women because they think they are entitled to women’s bodies and women have no right to object. The co-writer, April Wolfe stated it on Twitter, “Misogyny is cosmic horror” and she is correct. Sexism and society’s complicity in facilitating rape, especially in college, the military, and by other authority figures like the police, ICE and The Border Patrol, and in the entertainment industry by powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and many others, seems like a force that is supernatural in origin.

As a woman, it makes you feel powerless to understand that your violation and your word mean nothing to the people who could punish the perpetrator but choose not to. It’s like racism, especially the racism vividly brought to life in Jordan Peele’s Get Out. In fact, the concept of The Sunken Place is quite supernatural itself. Instead of just killing the black people whose bodies are stolen to transplant older white people’s brains, they are trapped forever in a terrifying limbo from which there is no escape.

Aleyse Shannon in BLACK CHRISTMAS | Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

As I have observed before, racism and sexism are an invisible net from which there seems to be no escape. No one will listen to your pleas for help or justice. There is only the order of things, the status quo that marks you as a victim, as a body, as a piece of meat to be used for someone else’s pleasure. There is a force that will make you bend and obey or that will break you and your spirit. Cosmic horror: in the Lovecraft sense, that there are elder Gods who could destroy you and all that you love if they looked in your direction. Stay quiet, obey, don’t make a fuss and maybe you will be eaten last as a reward. Speak up, fight, and you will be the first to be punished and to die. Horror as a genre is a great way to express injustices and wrongs in the fantasy construct so that the information and the medicine will go down more smoothly. Just ask Sophia Takal and April Wolfe.

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