Story: Nell (Keira Knightley) and her husband Simon (Matthew Goode) are hosting a small, intimate Christmas Eve dinner for their close friends. The beautiful countryside home they reside is an ideal place to host such an event, as they will have a kind of peace and quiet the city simply can’t offer. The friends begin to show up and the memories flood each of the guests, as they’re taken back to a lifetime of memories with each other. While this feels like old times to the friends, there is a different vibe as well, as they all know this will be their final dinner together. A chemical was released by Russia that has slowly spread across the entire planet, killing everyone in the areas it passes through and their region is next to be wiped out. As the night passes and the past is explored, the group must decide how to face this last dinner…and the realities of death.
Entertainment Value: Silent Night starts off as a slow burn drama, but as the narrative progresses, things become more and more off the rails. I appreciated that, as at first I thought this would be another “middle age friends catch up and secrets spill” kind of movie, which it is for a while, then the road gets bumpy and some wildness begins to leak out. That means a slower start to the movie, but the cast is deep and performs well, so that isn’t a problem. Even the exposition driven scenes are at least watchable, thanks to solid writing and the talented cast. The expected “shocking reveals” is a lot of fun and spirals nicely, as the catalyst to the madness that follows. I liked how the apocalyptic aspect was handled, as it is ever present, but allows for other threads to play out naturally. The different ways the pills are handled story wise was an interesting, often humorous element as well, which is another point to make, as Silent Night has quite a dark sense of humor. I found this to be an enjoyable, well made picture that might not stick the landing, but it is a fun watch.
This is an ensemble piece, so it needs a solid cast and thankfully, Silent Night delivers a deep, talented group of performers. While her role is a supporting one, I think Lucy Punch stands out as especially memorable, as she often does, even with smaller roles. She brings a manic energy and some great comedic beats to the movie, serving as the catalyst for the bursts of chaos in most incidents, which I appreciated. I think in the end, she steals the show in Silent Night and has some of the most fun, memorable moments. Keira Knightley will likely be the draw for a lot of viewers and she has a prominent role, so her fans should be pleased. She has a subdued approach, per the character, but when she lets loose a little, its fun to watch. The cast also includes Rufus Jones, Matthew Goode, Annabelle Wallis, and Lily-Rose Depp.
The Disc: RLJE Films released Silent Night on DVD with a capable transfer, clean and well detailed, as much as the standard format allows. Good colors and natural contrast, so this DVD edition is more than solid. The extras are some deleted scenes and alternate endings, the latter of which is especially of interest, to me anyway.