2 out of 5
Directed by: Monte Hellman
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out was an actual sequel; for whatever reason, I thought the “in name only” sequels started with this entry, and knowing that it lacked the Brian Yuzna spice of the ones to follow, I didn’t know what that would equate to. So a comatose Ricky (now played by Bill Moseley!) getting psychic-tingled into wakefulness – and another killing spree – by the blind Laura (Samantha Scully) was an appreciated way of drawing things out, even if it made me roll my eyes at how often horror franchises have dipped into this whole psychic-connection well. After getting a giggle over an odd correlation of eventual David Lynch actors – Laura’s brother, Chris, played by Eric Da Rae and Richard Beymer’s Dr. Maybury both from Twin Peaks; Chris’ girlfriend, Jerri, played by Laura Harring (here credited as Herring) of Mulholland Drive – I also liked that director / co-writer Monte Hellman inserted a lot of amusing chatter in the downbeats, and coerced relatable performances from his primaries during these moments, making the cast surprisingly fleshed out for this kinda cheapie.
But it’s a cheapie nonetheless, and for as thin as the plots of SNDN 1 and 2 were, SNDN 3’s plot – which is basically as stated: Dr. Beymer is running an experiment with Laura, studying her dreams and their effect on the comatose Ricky, with the latter waking and stalking the girl to her yearly holiday visit to grandmas – doesn’t muster up any of the slasher energy of either flick, and certainly none of the over-the-top humor of the second. That aforementioned chatter is nice, but all too clearly runtime filler at the same time, with realistic but long pauses between dialogue and drawn out shots that ruminate on nothing in particular. Ricky kills a handful of folk, but it’s pretty plain, bland stuff, and Hellman’s directorial skills don’t seem to extend to setting up much tension, as none of the actors are very convincingly terrified. Although that might be because the presumably thin budget went towards a helmet prop for Ricky, which is a see-thru jobby that exposes his “brain,” but, in the dim lighting of most of the flick, just looks like a crappy kid’s space helmet toy.
And besides being told it’s Christmas time, there’s really no sense of that either, so a strike on setting as well.
There are, for sure, worse DTV sequels out there. Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 is mostly competent, it’s just also mostly boring.