Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
silent night deadly night | silent night deadly night 4: initiation | sequel | brian yuzna | zeph e. daniel | clint howard | neith hunter | tommy hinkley | cult | ritual | christmas | united states | hugh fink | richard n. gladstein | reggie bannister | allyce beasley
Film: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
Director: Brian Yuzna
Writer: Zeph E. Daniel
Starring: Clint Howard, Neith Hunter and Tommy Hinkley
This is a movie that I got turned on to thanks to podcasts. I caught the original one at the Gateway Film Center a few years ago and then watched the second one. It is interesting is that I covered the third one for Side Quest with Jake and he recommended me seeing this one. I decided to go ahead and make it a Featured Review due to it being a Christmas movie technically. The synopsis for this sequel is a reporter investigating the bizarre death of a woman who leaped from a building in flames finds herself mixed up with a cult who is making her part of their ceremony during the Christmas season.
This movie starts with Ricky (Clint Howard) appearing from an alleyway. He is homeless and finds a burger on the side of the road. He opens it, exposing it covered in ants. His attention is drawn to the top of a building where a woman is on fire. She is pushed off. Ricky touches her, burning two of his fingers. The odd part is that only her lower half is on fire.
We then shift to a motel room with Kim Levitt (Neith Hunter) and Hank (Tommy Hinkley). They’re getting hot and heavy, but Kim is distracted by a news report about the woman who died. It turns out they work together. He is a reporter and Kim does a calendar as well as the classifieds. She tells Hank that she wants to pitch the idea of writing an article about this woman, but Hank doesn’t think that their boss, Eli (Reggie Bannister), will go for it. She gets quite upset that Eli actually likes the idea and gives it to Hank.
Kim talks with a co-worker of Janice (Allyce Beasley). She decides since she is up on her work to go investigate what happened. This leads her to the apartment and the sidewalk where the woman landed. She meets Jo (Glen Chin) who is a butcher. He tells her a bit of what he knows to which he is quite sexist about it. Kim then goes into a bookstore. There she is spooked by Ricky and meets the owner, Fima (Maud Adams). She states she didn’t know the woman, but she takes a liking to Kim. She helps our lead find a book on spontaneous combustion, which is what the reports think happened to the woman, but as well a gifting her a book on rituals. Kim doesn’t want it, but ends up taking it.
That night, Kim freaks out. She sees a bunch of cockroaches in her sink and they end up being in her dinner. It gets worse when she thinks she sees a giant one underneath her couch. This causes her to freak out, rightfully so, and tear her apart up. We end up seeing it on the wall when she goes back into her bathroom. This restless night causes her to miss work and Janice checks on her. Instead of going in, she goes to this picnic that Fima invited her to. It gets cut short when Hank finds her.
Kim ends up getting what she wants and works with Hank on this article. The deeper she looks into things, the darker it becomes for her. She isn’t sure what is real and what is not. She also realizes that this young woman might have been part of a ritual. Kim starts to feel better, but also gets caught up in things that she doesn’t fully understand.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap there. Now coming into this series, I knew that eventually these movies don’t have much in common with the original one. The one prior to this one is loose with it and this one is even more there. It is interesting that the trivia I read regarding this movie was that it was originally the idea for the third movie, was scrapped by the director and then the team came back to it here. What I find interesting is that this movie doesn’t need the name of Silent Night, Deadly Night. It does feel a bit of a cash grab to be honest. Part of it is that it takes place in California; it doesn’t have that Christmas feel. There is a character named Ricky, but I don’t think he is the one from part two or three.
With that out of the way, I do think we have an interesting story here. I’m a sucker for movies with a cult. We get that here. This one is an all women’s one. When we get to the ritual portion of the movie, it does turn out to be one to Egyptian gods and goddesses. They also reference Lilith, who was supposed to be Adam’s first wife, who wouldn’t lie with him and ended up consorting with the serpent. It is an interesting story as she is considered a villain. What I take from it is that she is more of a modern woman and does what she wants to. She also won’t be told to do something as her ‘duty’. I can respect that. I’m going to go deeper in this though, but I want to finish this idea for the cult. This adds to the atmosphere of the movie. It isn’t the best take on it, but I like that Kim doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t. She wants what they’re offering her. She isn’t necessarily ready to pay the price though. It is also a bit of a Rosemary’s Baby vibe where you don’t know who you can trust or who is involved with the cult.
Now with that fleshed out, I think we have an interesting commentary. It is fascinating to me that the director is a male with Brian Yuzna. He does some intriguing things with body horror and we get that here. This movie is showing that Kim is in a man’s world. She isn’t going to take it though. She fights back to get her way. Hank loves her, but he recognizes the ‘old boy’s club’. Eli is sexist along with his assistant, Woody (Richard N. Gladstein). Jo falls into that category with his thoughts on women. Fima also tells of how her husband ruined her relationship with her daughter and she is gone forever. There is a certain movie that people point to as a good feminist message while it angers others. I think this movie does a good job with presenting this and showing Kim fighting for her place.
I think that is good for the story so I’m going next to the effects, since I’ve said about Yuzna and him using body horror. I saw in the opening credits that ‘Screaming Mad’ George worked on this so I was excited. We get these giant insects that are creepy and well done. I think the blood works. Everything was done practically, especially since the era. I was thoroughly impressed by this budget. The cinematography helps here. That was well done, but when I see Yuzna’s name, I come to expect that.
Next should be the acting. My favorite part of this movie was Howard. He plays this guy who should probably be institutionalized. It is sad that he is homeless. I like what his character does as this movie develops. Hunter is solid as our lead. I like that we see her descend into madness and not knowing what is real. As she loses it, she is still trying to hold it together at work. Hinkley is fine as her boyfriend. He is established and where Kim wants to be. I think he means well, while also doing some annoying things. Adams is solid as well as the leader of the cult. I like those that are a part of it. I also enjoyed cameos from Bannister, Beasley and the rest of the cast round this out for what was needed.
So then in conclusion here, this movie is better than it has any business being. I like the idea of this cult and Kim getting pulled into it. There is the question of what is real and what isn’t. This cult could be helping her or it could just be her ambition. The social commentary is something I can appreciate. The acting I thought was fine. No one is great, but it works. The effects are good and the cinematography is solid. The soundtrack doesn’t necessarily stand out or hurt the movie either. I don’t like that it has the Silent Night, Deadly Night name. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the series and lacks that true Christmas feel. I’d still say this is probably better than the previous one and say it is just over average to me.
My Rating: 6 out of 10