Silent Night (the U.K., 2021) is a gut-punch of a film. What seems to be a traditional British Christmas gathering of family, friends, and frenemies turns into a harrowing ordeal that plays on emotions in a taut, chilling manner, with dark humor added to the mix to make matters even more mind-boggling.
Nell (Keira Knightly) and her husband Simon (Matthew Goode), parents of eldest son Art (Roman Griffin Davis) and their younger twins Thomas (Gilby Griffin Davis) and Hardy (Hardy Griffin Davis), host a Christmas feast for a diverse bunch. Nell’s stuffy sister Sandra (Annabelle Wallis) and her kinder, gentler husband Tony (Rufus Jones) arrive with their mordant young daughter Kitty (Davida McKenzie); Nell’s other sister Bella (Lucy Punch) brings along unsuspecting significant other Alex (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and longtime friend from school days James (Sope Dirusu) arrives with younger girlfriend Sophie (Lily-Rose Depp). While the adults bicker and open up both new and festering older wounds, the children run around with potty mouths and horrible attitudes. The humor comes mostly at the discomfort of one character or another.
Writer/director Camille Griffin introduces viewers to this cast of characters, none of whom are easy to warm up to, before peeling back layers that clue us in to the dreadful experience that they are all sharing — which I won’t spoil in this review; I recommend going in as cold as possible to Silent Night to let its dark wonders work on you at the pace Griffin intended. The horror isn’t of the supernatural or stalk-and-slash type; rather, it springs from coming to terms with a certain fate and how the decisions surrounding that affect everyone involved.
The ensemble cast members all give strong performances, delivering the razor-sharp lines from Griffin’s sardonic screenplay with aplomb. Griffin’s direction is terrific.
Silent Night may not be a Christmas horror film that you revisit every holiday season, but it is certain to give viewers much to chew on this year.
AMC+ and RLJE Films will release the darkly comedic drama/horror Silent Night in theaters and streaming exclusively on AMC+ on December 3, 2021.