Where to start? WARNING: here be spoilers!
It was a nice surprise to see Andrea martin who played Phyl in the original film now playing Mrs Mac the ‘House Mother’. I like Mary Elizabeth Winstead but I feel like she was underused and I found it difficult to tell which girl was which as they all seemed fairly interchangeable. It felt like the film didn’t know which girl would survive the night, so there was no real lead as such until close to the end of the film and that’s only because the others had been killed off, not because this girl was smarter or more resourceful than the rest.
The phone calls were tame as hell, bog standard “I’m going to kill you”. Nowhere near as obscene and deranged as Billy’s original calls.The deaths themselves were actually pretty good, only one was killed in the same way as the original and they were good and gorey which I wasn’t expecting.
One of the most intriguing and therefore scary parts of the original was that we had no idea who Billy was and while most people appreciated that, this remake gives us Billy’s history. I assume the director thinks the audience is stupid and can’t handle not been spoon fed every bit of information.
In the strangest of decisions director Glen Morgan decided that when Billy was born he had jaundice – why? I know it’s down to liver problems etc but what an odd choice to make as it bears no real relevance to the film. It’s not even made clear if his mother hated him because he had jaundice or if she was just a psycho. I’m going with she’s a psycho. She and her lover kill Billy’s father, Billy overheards it and hides in the attic, so his mother locks him in there so he can never tell anyone about the murder. Years later when Billy is a bit older, his mother, after failing to have sex with her boyfriend climbs up to the attic and rapes Billy. Nine months later she gives birth to a baby girl called…..Agnes.
Billy’s mother loves Agnes, dotes on her and Billy gets jealous. So a few years later when Agnes is around 8 years old Billy makes his escape from the attic and attacks Agnes and gouges out one of her eyes. Billy kills his mother and makes cookies out of her skin, which he’s merrily tucking into as the police arrive. Billy is incarcerated but every christmas he tries to escape.
So that’s Billy’s back story. I do understand that the director wanted to give some backstory but it’s done in such a clunky manner and by giving a backstory to the character it really lessens the creep factor. Billy is in no way scary. Neither is Agnes, who is brought in and shown to be the person being the killing of the girls which is an interesting move but even that doesn’t save the film from being lacklustre.
If you haven’t seen the original, go do it today. It’s a brilliant horror with bags of atmosphere and oddly enough, charm.
As for the remake? Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.