Holiday Horrors: SInt (2010)
The holiday horror viewing continues, this time with another film from our chilly friends from the Netherlands. SINT (SAINT NICK in the U.S) is another tale that takes the beloved myth of St. Nicholas and turns it on it’s head. I first heard about SINT around the time I first heard of RARE EXPORTS, a killer Santa film from Finland (see my article here and my review of RARE EXPORTS here). I guess RARE EXPORTS was further along in production because it was out in a limited theatrical run in December of last year (2010) while SINT wasn’t released onto MOD/VOD until September of this year (2011). Whatever the reasons, I finally got to watch SINT and must say it’s another really fun Holiday Horror flick.
SINT takes the form more of a slasher film than anything else. The film opens on December 5, 1492 where we get to witness Bishop Nicholas himself as a murderous, psychotic pirate-like thug as he rampages through a small village killing everyone in sight and stealing all the children. But this time the villagers aren’t gonna lay down and take it without a fight. They all band together and successfully kill Bishop Nicholas and his gang. But what the villagers don’t realize is that by killing Nicholas they’ve created a curse: Nicholas returns every December 5th whenever there’s a full moon to kidnap and murder children. Goert (Bert Luppes) is one of the few people who’ve lived through one of Nicholas’ attacks. Back on December 5, 1968, Goert survived Nicholas attacking and killing his parents and kidnapping his three younger siblings. Today Goert is a cop who is dreading the upcoming full moon on December 5th.
After the above action takes place we then meet our main characters in the present day. Besides Goert, there’s Frank (Egbert Jan Weeber), our hero, and Sophie (Escha Tanihatu), who just dumped Frank. And there’s also a lot of other victims … er, I mean cast members, introduced as well. Soon after the moon comes out, Nicholas appears and starts carving a path of destruction through Amsterdam. I soon realized that SINT was going to settle into a pretty standard slasher-type framework. Normally I’d yawn this type of film off for not being original or for not attempting to do something different (like RARE EXPORTS did) except for one minor detail. SINT was really fun!! Writer-director Dick Maas (who wrote and directed the 1983 horror film, THE ELEVATOR and the 1988 horror-thriller AMSTERDAMNED) never takes the material here too seriously and aptly keeps everything running along at a quick pace. There are a few spots in the middle of the film that seem to drag a bit, but overall Maas keeps this one rolling along.
Maas also has the sense to keep SINT pleasantly gory. Just like opening an unexpected gift on Xmas morning, the gore in SINT was unexpected but extremely welcome. We mostly get scenes of old St. Nick targeting one person at a time, and that’s all fine and good, but I would’ve loved to have seen St. Nick rampaging through the streets hacking away at any and all people who got in his way (but there is a great scene of St. Nick riding his horse at full gallop on top of people’s roofs that was really fun). And just when you think Maas is gonna pussy out on the element of St. Nick killing children, BAM … St. Nick rides his horse into the children’s ward of the local hospital and … aahhh; you’re gonna have to see this to believe it. Let’s just say that the hospital just had 35 beds suddenly open up!!
Visually, SINT is beautiful to look at. Maas and cinematographer, Guido van Gennep, create some really striking scenes using the beautiful city of Amsterdam and the snowy climate. There was also more than one scene that visually reminded me of Carpenter’s THE FOG. All in all, SINT isn’t quite as strong a film as it’s cousin RARE EXPORTS, but SINT is a ton of fun and is another Holiday Horror Film that I’m adding to my “Must Watch Every Year” list. We never really learn why Bishop Nicholas was a psychotic madman who’s righthand man was a pirate-looking bastard named Black Pete. But Maas throws so much fun gore our way that I really didn’t care. It’s Santa and he kills. It’s a killer Santa!! Check this one out; it’s a lot of fun.
Director: Dick Maas (& writer)
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer