Thursday, 27 October 2011


Film: Saint
UK Release date: 31st October 2011
Year: 2010
Certificate: 15
Director: Dick Mass
Starring: Huub Stapel, Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen, Madelief Blanken, Bert Luppes
Running time: 95 mins
Genre: Horror/Comedy
UK Distributor: Metrodome
Country: Netherlands
Reviewer: Adam Wing

There’s a good reason why your parents told you Santa Claus doesn’t exist. In the Middle Ages, the bloodthirsty St. Nicholas murdered his way across the country, killing all the good little girls and boys and doing away with their parents in the process - it’s not like he cared much for presents either. Some villagers didn’t take too kindly to this so they set out for revenge. On December 5th 1942, Niklas and his gang of looters were given a frosty reception, and there wasn’t a single snowman in sight. You can expect more jokes like that later. They hunted down Sint Niklas and burned him to death on his ship. This year, and every December 5th that coincides with a full moon, the bishop will rise from the dead to slaughter as many children as possible. He’ll probably take the mince pie you leave out for him too; he’s evil like that.

The last time the ghostly gang returned was in 1968. Hundreds of people were killed, including Goert’s entire family. Goert (Burt Luppes) has long since grown up and is now a police officer. The authorities downplay the incidents, keeping the possible involvement of Niklas a secret. Goert is ignored when he warns of impending doom and sent on leave, giving Niklas the time he needs to pack his sleigh with assorted weaponry and check his list a time or two. With Saint (a.k.a. Sint), Dick Maas returns to his horror roots, taking the gift of horror, wrapping it up in comedy and tying it off with a big red bloody bow. Attempting to do for Father Christmas what Dead Snow did for Nazi zombies, Saint arrives on DVD this month, proving once and for all that when it comes to horror, there’s no such thing as a silent night.

Psychotic Santa’s have been around for a while, but considering the comedy mileage, you’d be forgiven for wondering why it doesn’t happen more often. Championship wrestler Bill Goldberg starred in 2005’s festive frenzy Santa’s Slay, but the less said about that the better, and then there was Silent Night, Deadly Night and it’s lacklustre sequel. You can even find murderous snowmen if you look hard enough, but I wouldn’t recommend letting Michael Cooney’s Jack Frost anywhere near your DVD player, let alone your toes. 2010 marked a significant improvement with the release of Finnish hit Rare Exports - which makes it UK bow next month - but first up is Dick Maas’ Saint, an inexplicably daft yet bloodthirsty offering from Holland.

Taking familiar genre staples like dumb arrogant teens, urban legends and babysitting, Maas is at his most accomplished when he’s dashing through the snow of horror convention. A thrilling rooftop chase sequence shows off some inventive special effects, with Sint (Huub Stapel) filling the villainous void left behind by camp killers like Freddy and Jason. Amsterdam lends itself to some striking imagery and there’s plenty of gore to quench your thirst for festive frights. It’s a lean, mean, killing machine that camper and dafter than a thousand Nightmare sequels, but earns its place under the tree thanks to a killer concept that’s both joyful and triumphant. Leading man Frank (Egbert Jan Weeber) is a bit of a plank, but Weeber blesses him with enough charm to see him through. He certainly makes a change from your token big-breasted scream queen, even if I’m not convinced that’s such a good thing.

Goert lays down the guidelines early on by saying, “Getting presents can be fun, but you always end up getting crap you don’t really need”. The same can be said for Saint. There’s a little too much exposition at times, the girls barely get a look in and the ending feels rushed in comparison to the rest of the movie. It’s not as comical as it ought to be and a meatier conclusion would’ve been nice, but Maas goes all Dudley Moore on us, patching things up in a frustrating manner. It’s rare in this day and age that you’re left wanting more, but Saint is left open for a sequel. So you better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why… I think you know the rest.

With a killer concept, plenty of gore and top-notch action, it’s not just the shepherds that quake at the sight of Dick Maas’ Saint. There is a nagging feeling that it should’ve been better, but if it’s big, dumb fun you’re after this festive season, you know what to ask Santa for. You might want to check that he doesn’t speak in English subtitles first though.

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