“Intrigues with its entertaining and topical premise”
SILENT NIGHT (2021)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"Nell, Simon, and their son Art are ready to welcome friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing: everyone is going to die."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
Though there’s something a little cliché about films that both deal with the end of the world and centre around potentially awkward Christmas gatherings, rarely have the two sub-genres been merged.
Applying the question as to how would humanity react to certain death and the varying degrees of privilege addressed in such a dilemma, Silent Night, though working with a somewhat shaky tone, consistently entertains and intrigues with its premise.
The film begins on a rather typical note as we witness various couples and families gather for the festive season, all laying out their own ground rules as to how they can best survive what’s ironically dubbed “the most wonderful time of the year”. Writer and director Camille Griffin (marking her feature length debut here) has assembled a fine pool of predominantly British talent here – Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Annabelle Wallis, and Lucy Punch, to name a few – all leaning into archetypal, but no less enjoyable traits as a group of extended friends whose history is sordid, to say the least.
What initially presents itself as a comedic drama detailing long overdue reunions and the uncovered secrets and dysfunctions that come with such soon spirals into something darker and more horrific, with Griffin rather subtle in her approach as to how she addresses the end of the world mentality that ultimately laces proceedings.
An airborne virus is gradually introduced, with the thematics of forgiveness and love – something Knightley’s well-meaning Nell stresses to her guests when they arrive – becoming all the more relevant as the group unpack their own relationships. The tragic thing about Silent Night is that everyone here knows they are going to die, and there’s interesting dynamics explored as to how they are individually coping with such inevitability; the British Government has seemingly supplied each household with a specific pill that will make passing a much more pleasant experience.
Though the film’s darkly comedic beginnings may be at odds with its horrific ending – the final shot really speaks to a tragic outcome worse than death – and there’s a heft of conversations and relationships that beg for further delving, Griffin has created something unique and topical.