11.30.2011

SAINT (2010) Review


Directed by: Dick Maas
Starring: Huub Stapel, Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen

Christmas is almost upon us. So it's time to start making a list (and checking it twice) of appropriately themed horror films to watch. SAINT (or SINT in its native Dutch) is a nasty twist on Holland's own traditional Saint Nicholas legend. This is not the fat, jolly Santa Claus who slides down your chimney at night distributing presents to all the good little boys and girls. This man is a cold hearted and cruel fellow indeed.

The film starts off in the 15th century, and portrays 'ol Saint Nick as a nasty bishop atop a white steed. He stalks through a small village with his helpers, taking what the terrified residents have left out for him. If he isn't satisfied he sets his helpers upon them. After he leaves however, it becomes obvious that the villagers are fed up and they decide to do something about it. They follow Nicholas to his ship and proceed to burn it to the ground (er.. water), with him on board.

This introduction to the film was only about 10 minutes long but it had me hooked. I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

The bulk of the movie takes place in present day Amsterdam, where everybody is gearing up for the SinterKlaas celebrations. But there is a dark legend hanging over these celebrations. A legend which says that whenever a full moon appears on December 5th (the day Saint Nick was killed) he comes back from beyond the grave to embark upon a murderous rampage. But of course nobody really believes this. Except for one man. An obsessive policeman tries to call of the celebrations but of course everybody just think he's crazy. His reasons for believing are revealed later in the film.
The homicidal bishop does of course appear along with his army of undead minions, and soon the bodies begin to pile up. The main character (a teenage boy named Frank) must band together with the cop to stop this supernatural threat.

All of the basic slasher elements are here. Attractive teenage girls ripe for slaughter, the cynical cop who nobody believes, the young hero, of course a lot of hacking and slashing, and even a big bang.
Overall I think that this is one of the most solid films I've seen this year. There was no particular element which annoyed or disappointed me. The effects were great, and even the use of CGI was well applied. As for the acting, I have to admit that whenever I watch a foreign language film I find it a little harder to judge than an English speaking movie but it seemed perfectly fine to me. There was a love interest, but it didn't interfere with the main story, it was kind of just.. there. And the soundtrack was pretty cool too, particularly during the dramatic opening sequence. There is also just the right amount of humour. Not enough to make this a horror comedy, but you may find yourself grinning once or twice.

SINT doesn't cover any new ground, but it is a really well done, enjoyable twist on the Christmas horror subgenre. Definitely something worth watching, especially when Christmas is just around the corner. And it may just make you think twice about getting too close to any open fireplaces.





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