I don’t enjoy Christmas like most people do. I don’t hate it, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as most people do. It’s not because of presents, or not getting along with my family, it’s that for about 10 years or so growing up, I had a string of just miserable experiences on or around Christmas. We’re not talking about “I didn’t get what I wanted”, or “My flight was delayed 8 hours”, no we’re talking about really bad stuff. The end result of all this is that I have a very different view of the holidays. My preferred Christmas movies aren’t It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 42nd Street, but Bad Santa and Die Hard. None of that feel-good schmaltz for me, I need to see pain and suffering. That’s why I like Christmastime-set horror movies.
I just with there were more good ones: outside of Black Christmas, I don’t think there’s even one decent Yuletide slasher film. But at last that’s finally changed with Saint, a twisted version of the traditional Dutch Christmas story of Saint Nicholas (or Sinterklaas). In Saint, St. Nicholas comes back for real on every December 5th with a full moon, but he doesn’t leave presents for good children. He’s still a little sore about being murdered back in the 17th century, so when he comes back he and his assistants, the Black Peters, kidnap children and murder adults. They are extremely successful on both counts.
Yes, I did say ‘kidnap children’. In the story it’s based on, they’re taken to Spain (that hardly seems like a punishment), but in Saint, there is no hope of a free trip to Ibiza for the children Sinterklaas takes. We don’t know what he does with them, and given what happens to the adults he finds, it’s probably for the best. This is one of the things I like best about Saint: it isn’t afraid to break one of the biggest taboos in horror films. I don’t know if that’s as much of an unwritten rule in Europe as it is here, but I imagine that a film in which a number of children do die would not be without controversy anywhere. But if you can get past that part, Saint is a hell of a good time. It deftly combines action, horror, and pitch-black comedy into one of the most fun movies I’ve seen so far this year.