Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Saint / Sint (DVD Review)

DVD review of the Dutch supernatural holiday horror film Saint/Sint featuring a less-than-nice Saint Nicholas

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Image Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: Dick Maas (Do Not Disturb, The Lift, Amsterdamned)
Cast: Huub Stapel, Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen, Escha Tanihatu, Madelief Blanken, Bert Luppes
The Netherlands, 2010

Reason to see: Holiday horror - one of the most bizarre subgenres out there, which makes it all the more fun!

I was cautiously curious to enter the world of Saint/Sint, a Dutch horror/comedy that pitches Saint Nick as the villain in a twisted take on a holiday tradition. I watched the trailer many times before deciding if I wanted to take the plunge and watch the film and it was really hard to decide because it had all the ear marks of what could have been a bad horror film (young cast, bizarre/ridiculous and possible one-note concept with lore laid out in the trailer, plus I'd never heard of it), but I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe there would be something there worth watching. And there was. In fact it was all worth watching as I enjoyed every minute of it.

Holiday horror is a wild subgenre that just screams at you that it's stepping on all toes, literally and figuratively. In Saint/Sint we are working with the story of a evil and murderous St. Niklas who appears when there is a full moon on December 5th and goes on a vengeful rampage. And when I say St. Niklas, they actually are going with a Saint (played by Huub Stapel), so that will miff off any religious folks (who probably aren't up for holiday horror) and it's an equal opportunity killer so that will press even more buttons. But I think that it going for pushing buttons is a good thing, because that is where so much of the beauty of the film lies - it's over the top horror in terms many levels from visual with buckets of blood as well as concept as no one is safe. That was part of what I loved about the film was that it was across the board even in it's brutal take on things, it makes you realize that even with horror there are some places that films generally don't go...but with Saint/Sint they do. It easily lives up to the claim in The Making Of which introduces the film as the 'most controversial Dutch movie of the year'.

The film also favours some tried and true storytelling for horror including following a set of partying young folk of Frank (Egbert Jan Weeber), Sophie (Escha Tanihatu) & Natasha (Madelief Blanken) threading through holidays festivities, friendships and relationship drama as well as varying beliefs in celebrating the holiday season. We also have the stringent old timer police officer Goert (Bert Luppes) who files the dual role of resident expert and/or overzealous fool. I like how they give just enough of the characters that you can ease into their stories comfortably and then knocks it out of the park when it comes to the zaniness of the idea of the vengeful St. Niklaus full on with epic music, wild chase sequences and horrific encounters all with the backdrop of beautiful, wintery Amsterdam. It's a wild and wonderful horror film and it a fantastic holiday pick for horror fans and Scrooges alike.

DVD Extras:
  • The Making Of Sint (22 minutes) Impressive making of with lots of behind the scenes, extensive film clips and interviews with writer/director Dick Maas, special make up effects Erik & Rob Hillenbrink, stunt coordinators Willem de Beukelaer & Marco Maas, special Harrie Wiessenhaan, second unit Rolf Dekens, director of photography Guido van Gennep, visual effects supervisor Kasper Oerlemans and actors Egbert Jan Weeber, Huub Stapel, Escha Tanihatu & Bert Luppes on the premise of the film, where the idea came from of making a horror film about Saint Nicholas, playing with ideas that people are very familiarity with, the bloody nature of the film, the casting of the late-teen characters, the combination of horror and comedy, the setting & filming in Amsterdam, on the vengeance factor of the characters of Saint, the effects/make up, their characters, plus a time lapse make up for Saint Nicholas and a whole section on the effects from with behind the scenes and interviews with on the creating the effects lots of blood splattering, behind the scenes on the stunt works with wire work, cars, green screens, weather creation, creating the directors vision into reality, how much the actors did of their stunts, animated storyboard and process behind a unique chase scene, behind the scenes with second unit, the process of transferring green screen footage to finished film footage. In Dutch with optional English or French subtitles.
Saint/Sint is available on DVD as of December 20, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, a lot
I'll watch it again
I'd strongly recommend for fans of over the top horror fans and horror comedy fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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Huub Stapel in SAINT. Image Courtesy of eOne Films.

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