Production of “Silent Night,” a survival horror film directed by Camille Griffin, started before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s hard not to watch and interpret it within that context.
The film follows a group of friends who spend Christmas at an idyllic countryside cottage in rural England with Nell (Keira Knightley), Simon (Matthew Goode) and their three children. Behind the Christmas cheer, it’s clear that the world outside the cottage is in peril, and the friends have made a pact to make a drastic escape.
The danger is never fully explained, but there appears to be a noxious cloud of toxins engulfing the Earth that painfully kills those exposed to it. Throughout, the children often serve as proxies for adults, engaging in political conversations while their parents reminisce or talk about who slept with whom in high school. Art (Roman Griffin Davis), one of Nell’s children, watches videos online that seem to contradict his parents’ messaging, and he starts to question their choices.
The timing of “Silent Night” makes it destined to be viewed as a Covid-19 film, but it’s actually about climate change and the government’s inaction in the crisis. It’s an eerie movie that emphasizes the ways in which children are vulnerable to adults’ decisions, and how the wealthy skirt responsibility and protect their own. Most of the adult characters seem to be living inside a conspiracy theory, blinded by their own fear and resigned to their impending doom. But the characters, despite their histrionic representation of the wealthy class, are not compelling enough to carry the movie, nor are the horrors of the outside world fleshed out enough to frighten. Ultimately, the movie seems to ask: In the face of a dying world, should we give up or stay and fight?
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