Review: Saint

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From Dick Maas, the man behind mad Dutch horror films Amsterdamned and The Lift, comes this hugely entertaining entry in the festive horror genre – a tale that takes myth and traditional and adds a tasty mix of gore and black humour.

As a pre-Christmas tradition in the Netherlands, St Nicholas and his assistant Black Peter will visit homes, leaving gifts – and punishing the naughty. But while this is usually an event that is an excuse to hand gifts to friends and family, every so often the date coincides with a full moon, at which time the real Saint Nicholas and his army of mutant monsters will return to rampage across Amsterdam, killing hundreds. As an obsessed cop – whose family were slaughtered on a previous occasion – and a teenager who is falsely accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and mates team up to track down and destroy the zombie-like Saint Nicholas, the authorities are scrambling to cover up the truth behind the killings.

urlShort on plot but long on action, Saint is a real roller coaster ride of a horror film, with tongue firmly in cheek as Saint Nicholas gallops across the rooftops on his horse (with some terrible CGI thrown in), chased by the police and merrily dismembering and decapitating anyone who gets in his way. Mixing very Dutch ideas and American slasher movie tropes (including teenage characters who all look to be in their mid-Twenties), Maas conjures up a thoroughly entertaining tale. Admittedly, if you are unfamiliar with Dutch festive traditions, the whole thing is quite bewildering – there’s only a cursory attempt to explain it to English-speaking viewers – but eventually, you start to understand what it’s all about. More po-faced viewers might be shocked by characters ‘blacking up’ as Black Peter in the Dutch tradition, though of course this simply adds to the gleefully tasteless nature of the whole story.

With a strong cast playing characters who are generally likeable (British filmmakers take note) and a fairly non-stop approach to the action, Saint is huge fun, and just the thing for alternative Christmas Day viewing!

DAVID FLINT

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