444) Black Christmas (1974) Dir: Bob Clark Date Released: December 1974 Date Seen: December 12, 2009 Rating: 3.25/5
As rote as its kind of inconclusive ending would later become in the American slasher genre, Black Christmas's lack of a resolution is its most memorable attribute. It forces the viewer to rationalize what they just saw in a vain attempt to discern good/bad guys, achieving a level of ambiguity that Wes Craven has been striving for for most of his filmography (A Nightmare on Elm Street is his most overt acknowledgment of Black Christmas' influence, featuring John Saxon as a local sheriff who in fact is the film's real villain). In that sense, screenwriter Roy Moore's script handily baits the audience and confronts them with the knowledge that they're not as smart as they think: based on the information we're provided, we can figure out that the film's red herring suspect is not the killer but after that, not a heckuva lot. The harassing phone calls give nothing away and neither does Saxon's fruitless search for clues, which all lead to the red herring anyway. Not sure if Bob Clark's formal control is making me like this more than the film's petulant payoff deserves but it is a good prank.