The second remake of Black Christmas, the notorious thriller by A Christmas Story director Bob Clark, is nearing release so its cast and director have a lot to say.
Co-writer and director Sophia Takal discussed the film with Entertainment Weekly shortly before Thanksgiving and described it and the characters as “fiercely feminist.”
Asked about working in the horror genre on a movie written and directed by women, Takal answered she hopes it shows and dubbed it a feminist picture:
“I didn’t just want to make a movie about a bunch of women getting slaughtered. It just gave me a pit in my stomach. This is not to say that a man might want to see that. I just think I felt very much a responsibility not to perpetuate this idea of disposable female characters, because of how it makes me feel when I watch that. I call this movie a fiercely feminist film, so I don’t mind being asked about that at all.”
The plot borrows from its predecessor – sorority sisters are victims of a killer they have to identify. But Takal differentiates her iteration from Clark’s as more “contemporary” regarding the feeling of being a woman in 2019:
“The original Black Christmas feels so contemporary and modern for the time. Since then I feel like there have been so many movies about sorority sisters where the women have been portrayed as dumb, bimbo-y idiots. What I love was this was a group of women who, even though there was some conflict and strife — you know, Margot Kidder was a real spitfire [laughs] — they were all very much three-dimensional, strong female characters. I wanted to make something that reflected our time right now, drawing more from what the original evoked for me rather than great plot points. For me, it was about what does it feel like to be a woman in 2019?”
Takal also added her movie is “very, very loosely based on” the original but her inspiration is more personal:
“It’s more inspired by the feeling that Black Christmas made me feel watching it, this idea of misogyny always being out there and never totally eradicable. So that was the jumping-off point for how I came up with this plot. I’d compare it more to how Luca Guadagnino remade Suspiria than to a straight-ahead remake.”
She then went on to address #MeToo and “patriarchal structures” women in Hollywood deal with. Her view mirrors that of Ewan McGregor who called Birds of Prey feminist and said his film takes a look into everyday misogyny.
McGregor’s admission may have doomed his own horror vehicle which adapted a previous work, Doctor Sleep. I analyzed that possibility recently.
Her star Imogen Poots, who plays main girl Riley, is on the same wavelength. Poots discussed working on the movie with Forbes:
“It felt really cool to turn up for work and have your colleagues be predominantly women, especially after being on a majority of films where it’s been mostly men surrounding. The heart of the problem is that something super-old and super-ingrained feels natural and normal so it feels normal that the majority of the cast is male whereas it’s kind of exotic to have a lot of female characters around and to be directed by a woman.”
Poots called Hollywood a male-driven industry and said climate change is the reason filming location New Zealand had no snow on the ground in June – when it is winter there.
Released in 1974, the original Black Christmas starred Margot Kidder years before her fame as Lois Lane and Olivia Hussey, right after Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet, and well before the 1990 miniseries version of Stephen King’s IT.
A cult classic looked upon as the first slasher film, it adapts the urban legend of a killer making calls to a house from within via a second line. Obscene, unintelligible, and living in the sorority’s attic, he stalks and kills the sisters one by one until Hussey makes a desperate last stand.
The first crack at a remake was produced by Harvey Weinstein and starred Arrow’s Katie Cassidy in 2006. Plagued by reshoots and producer interference, it’s widely regarded as a mess.
Produced by Blumhouse – responsible for Get Out and The Purge and bringing back slasher franchises through the new Halloween films – Sophia Takal’s Black Christmas comes out on Friday.
Any horror fans here? Do you plan to see this movie? Let us know.