This is an important but lesser known early contribution to the American slasher film and its sometimes claustrophobic nature. The camera movements through staircase and corridors are an important motif that seems to have been introduced here and was taken over by other directors. Also Shirley Walker's music has some unusual features in using only the piano inside during the culminations.
"Black Christmas" doesn't lead anywhere - as most of modern cinema's horror incursions - but it keeps you going with its perverse moralism and efficient suspense. There are quite some stylised, artificial compositions and (on the final act) a strong use of alternated editing that reflect some interesting formal thought.
Deservedly a Canadian horror classic with (gasp!) actually well developed female characters who are funny and interesting and we are actually remorseful for when they are inevitably murdered. Margot Kidder is a standout as the drunk and hilarious Barb
The 70s nostalgia only took my appreciation for this movie so far. The need for raunchiness because it was possible that so many 70s movies had dragged this down. Add in the weak (but understandably necessary) plot between Olivia Hussey and Keir Dullea was dull but the last 5 minutes almost turned my opinion of Black Christmas around. Almost...
Anticipates many of the conventions that would come to dominate American horror films, but not really anything special. It's biggest flaw is its slow pacing, it never generates the necessary energy to really make it a B-movie classic. Colorful characters and some fun over the top kill scenes, but director Bob Clark fails to develop a whole lot of style or atmosphere.
What this film actually succeeds in doing, is leaving the audience in doubt and suspense throughout the entire film. Even the ending makes you question what really happened here? Not all things are answered, which is exactly what makes this film so realistically terrifying. Although it moves slower than the slashers to follow, this film builds up certainty and fear in your mind, then completely breaks it down.