Directed by Dick Maas
Written by Dick Maas
Starring Huub Stapel, Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen, Madelief Blanken
Though this is the third killer version of Santa Claus in this week’s column, this one plays things straight. Some horror doesn’t take itself seriously. I think there’s an overabundance of that in recent years, at least in mainstream horror. I enjoy the stories of horrors of real life, the ones that take the real world and either show horrific elements of it or bring horror elements into the real world. From the Netherlands, SINT is a killer Santa film, but it is definitely in the vein a horror fanatic like myself can get behind.
SINT opens up in 1492 with a dour looking bishop and his band of not so merry men make their way through a village, taking offerings and randomly murdering entire households. The townspeople revolt and burn the terrorizing Saint’s boat and with the Saint and his helpers inside to the briny depths. Enter 32 years in the past (which the numbering doesn’t really match if the story is set in present day and the second jump in time takes place in 1968 which would make it 42 years, but who’s paying attention to stuff like that), a typical family home is getting ready for the holidays when the fireplace goes cold. The kids gather round to see Santa Claus, but instead meet a gory, yet off screen, death. It was at this second opening sequence that I was hooked on SINT. The chimney sequence is filmed quick and contained enough elements that were original and horrifying to be one of the more memorable holiday horror sequences on celluloid.
The movie really starts getting rolling when it finally gets to present day. Yes, it becomes your typical young protagonists against a legend story. In fact, it’s very much like the story of Freddy Krueger as an evil man is executed by angry townsfolk only to return for revenge on the descendants, but SINT has an authenticity and works with the tradition of Christmas, a holiday most hold dearly, so there’s a commonality to the threat that Elm Street lacks. There are also elements of HALLOWEEN present with a slightly mad policeman scouring the streets of the town Loomis-style for signs that his theories that St. Nick is not the jolly old soul he is thought to be.
So yes, SINT has a supernatural killer returning from the grave for vengeance against a town. What sets this apart from your typical slasher opus is the execution. I will say that this film does for fireplaces what JAWS did for beaches. With the effective first chimney sequence, SINT makes every step near a hearth filled with tension. Director Dick Maas does a fantastic job of setting a very creepy tone, establishing a new iconic big-screen monster, and fiendishly riffing off of age old tradition. Maas makes every kill stand out and inventive and isn’t afraid to get gory when need be. SINT (Dutch for SAINT) is the perfect combination of the first two films we looked at in this column. It’s got the deadly serious tone of CUENTO DE NAVIDAD’s killer dressed as Santa mixed with the embrace and twisting of the Santa Claus myth of SANTA’S SLAY. When it comes to holiday treats, what I want for Christmas is more films like SINT!