Fantasia 2011: SINT Review

(Review by Justin Decloux)

Director Dick Mass (The Lift) delivers technically impressive supernatural holiday slasher (Now that's a sub-genre!) that features an iteration of a jolly red fellow that would rather slice your head off then hand over presents. 


Legend has it that if a full moon rises on the eve of the St. Nicholas feast in Amsterdam, St Nick himself will appear with his gang of 'Black Peters' and punish all the bad boys and girls. When SINT begins it just happens to be the first St. Nicholas full moon in thirty-two years, and only one lone police officer (who witnessed his family brutally murdered by St. Nick as a child) believes that danger is afoot, while everyone else is too busy celebrating, and unknowingly, getting ready to meet their maker.


The atmosphere is thick, the threat is palatable, the stock teens are ready die in horrible ways... You can feel Director/Writer/Composer Dick Maas flexing his cinematic muscles. St. Nick and his monster-ish 'Black Peters' are impressive creations that strike just the right note of supernatural menace and when the killing starts it's impressively gory and creative. I can't complain that the film doesn't deliver on the blood factor.


The problem is that when things are supposed to get REALLY intense the film stalls. It blows its load too early, kills off too many main characters, and is stuck treading water (literally) until the credits roll. We are told that St. Nick is going to capture all all the bad children and brutally murder anyone that gets in his way. It's going to be crazy, right? Nope. He is content to just capture a few kids from the hospital and then be on his merry way. Where's the town wide carnage? I understand that budget limitations were a massive factor, but the script shouldn't be setting up such expectations. All we get in the third act is a non-confrontation that ends with a requisite Deus Ex Machina explosion.


Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. It moves at a brisk pace, it feature some great gore gags and there's one impressive set piece where a horse bound St. Nick gives chase across the rooftops...but the scenario sets itself up for GREMLINS style mayhem. Why have an army of monster at your beck and call if they'll only be used sparingly? It is the classic "When are they going to get to the fire work factory?" conundrum - there's even a batch of characters on a way to a party that never get there. As I sat in the theater my brain couldn't help asking itself "Wait. This can't be the end...Can it?". I succumbed to the dreaded trap of self-imposed expectations.


SINT is a fun diversion that doesn't quite live up to the lofty ideas. Director Dick Maas is obviously a talent behind the camera and I hope that this return to form is a sign of great things to come. 

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