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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.19.11] Netherlands horror slasher

Year: 2010
Director: Dick Maas
Writer: Dick Maas
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 6 out of 10

It's easy to get so wrapped up in the holiday spirit to forget that not everyone celebrates the holidays in the same way. In the Netherlands, for example, gift giving is on December 5th when, as tradition tells it, St. Nicholas and his band of helpers, referred to as Black Peters, go around delivering gifts to children. For his own little twist on the tradition, writer/director Dick Maas has taken the familiar legend and delivered Saint (Sint).

In Maas' tale, St. Nicholas is a disgraced bishop leading a band of thieves pillaging and terrorizing as they make their way through the countryside. Fed up, a group of villagers attack St. Nicholas' ship just off shore, burning the thing down with the Saint and his posy on board but as the ship burns, St. Nicholas vows to seek revenge. Now, when December 5th lands on a full moon, a burned up ghost (or maybe it's a demon? It's never fully explained.) of St. Nicholas wonders the city and country spilling blood.

Goert, the survivor of an attack in the 60s, is a police officer who has spent much of his life researching and creating a plan for destroying St. Nicholas once and for all. When he's asked to take leave during the holidays, the department believes he's a threat because he's obsessed by this idea of a murderous St. Nicholas, he sets off on his own with a crazy plan to blow St. Nicholas' ship off the face of the planet. Along the way, he picks up a comrade, a young man who finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time, and the two become reluctant partners.

Though the set-up is different from what I'm used to, the film itself is pretty cookie cutter in execution; two guys against a crew of baddies. What's interesting here is that there isn't much of a chase. It's not until the movie's last 20 minutes that Goert and his sidekick Frank go in search of St. Nicholas. Most of the film's running time is spent as we follow St. Nicholas on his rampage. It makes for fun viewing, particularly because the kills are entertaining, but after thirty minutes of following various characters as they have run-ins with the Saint and his helpers, it all gets a little repetitive.

The effects, most of them practical, are pretty gruesome but there are a few moments, primarily one with a flame thrower, which are a little questionable but overall, there's nothing here that makes the movie unwatchable. It's just your middle of the road horror movie with a Christmas twist which makes it a fun watch for the holiday season.

Though it's not likely something I'll remember in a few months time, Saint does fill a nice niche and all things considered (the nearly non-existent story, the mediocre acting, the sometimes questionable effects), it makes for an entertaining ninety minutes of bloodletting with a huge body count. And of course, the door is open for a follow-up…

Saint is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, December 20th.

DVD Extras: A twenty two minute making of with cast and crew interviews including a look at the special effects (the practical and make-up effects are pretty cool) and a chat with writer/director Dick Maas about his inspiration for the story.

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