Around the months of November and December, you often get plenty of films released that are set around the Christmas holiday. Whilst most of those are family comedies, you do sometimes get a Christmas-themed film in different genres, such as the 2016 horror film Better Watch Out. Now this is extending to the realm of low-budget crime thriller’s with Silent Night from director Will Thorne.
It follows Mark (Bradley Taylor), who has recently been released from prison. He wants to get back involved in his daughter’s life and make her Christmas special. However, after running into his former cellmate Alan (Cory Crankson) and being hounded by his former gang, he is drawn back in to do one final job.
The premise is the usual fare for this sort of British gangster film, and whilst the narrative flirts with some intriguing ideas and story beats, there’s not enough done to differentiate it from the countless films in this genre that come out every year. What the narrative mainly boils down to is a bunch of meandering expositional scenes mixed in with some occasional moments of violence. Interest is lost pretty quickly when the film doesn’t progress from that.
The characters being paper-thin doesn’t help much, with Mark being the only one to have some attempt at development. Most of them adhere archetypes, especially with the no-nonsense gang boss in Caddy (Frank Harper).
Performance-wise it’s mostly fine, with Bradley Taylor being fine in the lead role, even if he does have the tendency to mumble his lines every now and then. Cory Crankson was annoying at first, but grew more convincing as he went along. Arguably the best performaces came from two of the more high-profile actors Nathaniel Martello-White and Joel Fry, who were far better than the film deserved in all honesty.
On a technical level there are unfortunately a few basic errors, with some shots being out of focus and the audio level for different characters in the same conversation noticeably changing. There is some stylisation attempted in the presentation, with a Black & White flashback scene, some interesting match cuts and a one-take shot through a party, but they just come across as inferior to the far better genre films these techniques have been lifted from.
It all builds up to a last act twist which just makes you question how most of the story played out, and then sputters to an unsatisfying conclusion, with not even a final shoot-out to perhaps end the film on a high note.
Also, there isn’t really a strong reason why this story is set at Christmas. It initially provides the main motivation for Mark in wanting to earn some money to make Christmas special for his daughter, but it’s then superseded by Caddy threatening Mark’s family if he doesn’t do the job. Aside from that, it only pops up in some of the music choices, and background detail.
There are far better options for British crime-thrillers and Christmas films out there. Combining the two in this case, hasn’t produced something worth much merit.
Silent Night is in UK cinemas now, on Digital Download from 14th December and on DVD from 28th December.