“Silent Night” is this winter’s new cynical dark comedy where that awkward family Christmas dinner meets the end of the world. The film, funny in some parts, pokes fun at the holiday season and cringeworthy family reunions while making a statement about climate change and classism.
Beginning with the sweet melodic voice of Christmas music favorite, Michael Bublé, four different sets of families get ready to spend the Christmas holiday — and the last day of humanity — together. All connected by their university days, the chaos begins at the English countryside house of Nell and Simon and their three kids.
All of the adults, minus couple James and Sophie, have made a pact together to celebrate the end of times and, when the time comes, to take their government’s “exit pill” so that instead of dying a bloody and painful death, they may die with peace and dignity. The party is supposed to be a remembrance of their lives, and an opportunity to tell their truths.
The impending doom is not lost on any of them, but the adults do their best to make the most of the situation. Drinking, playing games and dancing around. Art, one of Nell and Simon’s boys, is in denial. He doesn’t want to take the pill because he can’t wrap his brain around the idea that this airborne poisonous gas is going to kill them all if they don’t take the pill. As the evening comes to an end, the anxiety begins.
Full of dry wit and a variety of different British quirks, “Silent Night” has its moments, but also fails to hit the punchline at times. It makes fun of British culture and its snobbish attitudes. As the doom approaches, it gets obviously less amusing and dark, but there are still moments where a slight chuckle might escape your lips.
The performances by the star-studded cast were good, but not impressive. Each character, whether it was neurotic Nell, played by Keira Knightly, or her self-obsessed best friend Sandra, played by Annabelle Wallis, seemed to have good chemistry with everyone else in the group.
Despite the average acting performance, in the final act, you still empathized with the characters as they amusingly faced their mortality. You hoped there was still some slight chance they might be able to make it out alive. The last twenty minutes of the film are really the best part; you get the best performances by the actors and see the truth of their characters.
The bottom line is “Silent Night” might not become an instant holiday classic, but it is a unique take on a holiday movie. It’s fun, but it could be funnier. “Silent Night” is available in select theaters and streaming on AMC+.