A slasher-film homage that reimagines Santa Claus as an undead demon, Saint accurately rehashes genre conventions, even if it chooses not to be the least bit scary. Going for more grind-and-gristle than the superficially similar, more fantasy-oriented Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, and working from the Dutch conception of the jolly old soul, Maas’ film portrays St. Nick (Huub Stapel) as an old-world Freddy Krueger, an evil bishop who preyed upon innocent children, was torched for his crimes by the local townsfolk, and now returns astride his steed as a melted-face ghoul – whenever there’s a full moon on December 5th – to butcher the naughty and nice alike. Maas doesn’t just shout out to Wes Craven but, during a long sequence involving three high school girls walking home from school that’s set to twinkling piano music, John Carpenter as well. Those tributes lend a cheeky verve to the eventual battle between St. Nick – who wields a long circular-bladed staff, and is accompanied by crispy-zombie Black Peters – and both local high schooler Frank (Egbert Jan Weeber) and suspended cop Goert (Bert Luppes), the latter of whom saw his family killed by St. Nick as a child. Chugging along at a laid-back pace, Saint may not deliver much horror, but it hits its time-honored gory and goofy notes with an endearing wink-wink sense of slaughterhouse humor.
The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival