Friday, 10 February 2012

Review : Saint (2010)




Dick Maas


Dick Maas
I've always thought of myself as quite a cultured soul. I take an active interest in other cultures, and the origins of their customs, but this one slipped me by...

I had no idea that in Denmark, instead of the traditional Coca-Cola sponsored corporate bullshit that we call, 'Santa Clause', our Danish pals have 'Saint Nicholas', and that instead of delivering presents to kids on Dec 25th, he'd rather show face on any Dec 5th which boasts a full moon, and kill the ever-loving shit out of as many people as possible, kids and adults alike. Cool. This is yet another reason I should move to Amsterdam...

SAINT boasts a festive undead fruitcake who rides a zombie horse across rooftops, wields a huge, razor sharp staff, and has a limitless army of undead slaves who do his bidding, which usually entails wholesale slaughter. This is my kinda Father Christmas.
If this all sounds completely ridiculous, that's because it is, but its also a zany, fun-filled little slice of foreign lunacy that is well worth a beer-soaked viewing with some good buddies. If your a fan of holiday-themed Horror, this one should be on your list. It may be prime grade cheese, but its a surprisingly well made prime grade cheese.

Visually, SAINT is a real treat, it looks very expensive, despite some obvious CG that carries throughout. For the most part, its shot entirely on real locations, and the cinematography is joyous. If your a fan of atmospheric winter snow-scapes, you've came to the right place; and if you've never spent time in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, you may wish to after you slap your eyes on its sights and sounds. Also of special note is that the film makes very good use of the camera's fluidity, its constantly kinetic and full of a rare energy, (outside Asian Cinema), and frankly, far too professional for a film dealing with a rooftop riding undead Santa. Even the obvious CG has a certain warmth to it. It feels more like the matte painting of old, than the sort of bullshit such 'luminaries' as George Lucas spew forth onto the world. And while blatantly fake, its very pretty, and adds to the cheesy charm the film has in spades. Also, and very importantly for a slasher film, it has its fair share of nastiness. There are some great gore-gags here, and plenty of blood, grue and decapitated heads are liberally thrown around the screen. Some kills are off-screen, and that's a big no-no in my opinion, (for this style of movie), but the kills we do witness more than make up for it. Its a whole lot of fun watching 'Saint Nicholas', and his 'Black Peters' doing what they do best. 

If your wondering what 'Black Peters' are, (and if your in any way as ignorant of this stuff as I am), think of Santa's elves, except with huge swords and axes, and burned to death. Yeah...that. Oh, and if this seems perhaps a little racially dubious, well, its not. This is the Danish, man. Let them be. Chances are those mellow fellows are far less concerned about political correctness than the tight-asses that populate these shores.

SAINT also boasts some really well directed action sequences. One rooftop chase in particular owes a great deal to BATMAN BEGINS, and the influences don't end there. There are scenes lifted right out of John Carpenters output. A scene introducing some of the female characters is tonally, and thematically, exactly the same as HALLOWEEN's Laurie and her pals heading home from school. We even have one of them heading to babysit a kid, and a friendly figure jump-scare that doesn't work at all, but raises a smile of recognition. THE FOG is also a huge inspiration, especially during an ocean-bound scene wherein a small boat comes into contact with the spectral ship that is piloted by the undead and brings ole Santa to 'The Dam'. Its all nonsense, of course, and would probably be insulting, were it not so charmingly put together.

The characters, like those who populate most slashers, don't really bear mentioning, although they all do a decent enough job, and the two leads are fun to watch. The fright scenes are non-existent, (save for two jump-scares that came completely out of the blue, and raised me off my chair), but the overall tone of tongue-in-cheek silliness pulls this thing through. 

SAINT is no masterpiece and it won't create a franchise, but what it is, is simply fun. Its relatively gory, colourful and thankfully, never takes itself too seriously. You won't learn a great deal about Danish culture, but you will get to see a zombie horse fall five stories and crush two cops, and that in itself puts this right up there with SCHINDLER'S LIST.

6 Black Peters out of 10


  1. I never see it as gory, but heck yes, Saint was a fun slash-ride to hell! I dig the rooftop chase and the score's amazing!

    I got this nagging feeling it's not the last film, but in case i'm wrong, at least it was silly, braindead fun!

  2. I forgot to mention the soundtrack. Your right, it was brilliant.
    Id certainly watch a sequel. It was enormous fun :)

  3. I watched Saint on Boxing Day and really enjoyed it! It's definitely an interesting flick. My dad and his Dutch partner divide their time between New Zealand and Holland, so I was already familiar with some of the Christimas customs (Black Pete, the poems etc) but it's interesting to see what other people think!

  4. Hi Theri. Yeah it was a blast from my standpoint to see the customs put to film. Really cool. I have some friends over in Amsterdam who love living there, and I may wanna join em :)

    Im gonna look more into the historical origins of the customs, as the film peaked my interest!