Imogen Poots faces off against a masked killer in a scene from the movie Black Christmas.
Imogen Poots faces off against a masked killer in a scene from the movie Black Christmas. Universal Pictures

Classic slasher movie re-imagined for the #Metoo era

THERE may be a murderer loose on a college campus in Black Christmas, but the film's scariest moments are those firmly rooted in reality.

The new horror film is a 21st century #MeToo take on the classic '70s film of the same name, which is widely considered one of the first slasher films that paved the way for movies like Halloween.

"Even though the original is so scary, and it's considered one of the first if not the first slasher movie, it explores sexual politics and abortion and well developed, well rounded, complex female character. I was a huge fan of the movie and it was interesting to try to make a version of that that felt fresh and contemporary for 2019," director Sophia Takal says.

 

Imogen Poots and director Sophia Takal on the set of Black Christmas.
Imogen Poots and director Sophia Takal on the set of Black Christmas. Kirsty Griffin

 

"Until Scream (came out in 1996), it felt like a lot of slasher movies were exploitative of women's bodies.

"I wanted to make a movie that would satisfy horror fans but would bring in a whole new generation of horror fans, particularly young women."

Black Christmas follows Riley (Imogen Poots) and her sorority sisters, some of which stay behind during the winter break to celebrate the holidays on campus.

But they are soon stalked by a stranger and discover that the killer is part of an underground college conspiracy.

"Imogen is an actress whose work I've admired for years; she immediately came to mind," Takal says.

Imogen Poots in a scene from Black Christmas.
Imogen Poots in a scene from Black Christmas. Kirsty Griffin

"She's so powerful and intelligent and she's such a fighter, but she also can inhabit the more emotionally vulnerable moments of Riley's experience - she's suffered a trauma and built up all these walls around herself where's she's only felt safe with her sisters. 

"Then there is moment where it seems like our main character has found her voice again. In a different movie it might be the very end of the story, but for the rest of our movie she is being punished for finding her voice- which is something a lot of women can relate to as well."

Poots admits to being quite frustrated with her character when she initially read the script.

"She's so passive at the start of the movie with this paralysis. I wanted her to wake up," she says.

Aleyse Shannon, Imogen Poots and Caleb Eberhardt in a scene from Black Christmas.
Aleyse Shannon, Imogen Poots and Caleb Eberhardt in a scene from Black Christmas. Kirsty Griffin

"But the more I sunk into it, I understood how Riley's struggle was so relevant and so potent. With feminism, there's no one single way to go about it."

With strong, positive male characters as well as women, Poots hopes Black Christmas has a wide appeal.

"I would love men and women to see the film. It's really important to listen to stories like this. Despite the fact that it's a pretty heightened genre, the social message at the core of it is not so far from reality," she says.

"A lot of horror films can leave you really depleted and exhausted, but this film gives you something back."

Black Christmas opens in cinemas tomorrow.