DVD & Blu-ray review: Saint ★★☆☆☆

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As the holiday season fast approaches can Saint (Sint), a Dutch horror film which turns Saint Nicholas into a murderous zombie, liven people’s spirits?

The film’s basic premise is intriguing: every time there’s a full moon on the fifth of December, which apparently occurs every 25 years or so, Saint Nicholas (aka the Dutch version of Santa Claus) turns up. Only he’s not here to hand out pressies. No, this is one badass zombie Saint Nicholas, complete with a zombie steed who is only dealing out death and lots of it too. But can the film do this absurdly genius idea justice and come up
with the goods?

The film opens during the 1500s with Saint Nick and his henchmen, called the ‘Black Peters’, breaking into people’s homes and killing mercilessly, until one night the villagers whom they have tormented decide they’ve had enough and burn him to death on his boat along with his henchmen. Getting into the festive spirit yet? Well fast forward to 1968, and we bear witness to the zombie-fied version of the man massacring a family, complete with little kiddies, save for one boy who ‘luckily’ was busy tending to the family’s startled livestock. We now skip to the present day, and low and behold it is the fifth of December and – yep, you guessed it – it’s a full moon.

What ensues basically revolves around Saint Nicholas returning to wreak havoc on Amsterdam while the sole survivor of his attacks 30 years previously, now an old man, attempts to stop him with the help of a college student simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The film does look good considering its budget. The effects and gore detail, whilst not the most impressive of sights you’ll see this year, work well. The zombies all look convincing and creepy enough, and a scene where a horse falls onto a police car is executed well. The film also features some outrageously gory deaths complete with blood, guts and exploding heads, so for fans of the genre know that you will not be disappointed in this respect. Everyone at any age (note: children not barred) can be killed, and the grisly nature of these deaths seems to be intensified as the film progresses which is undeniably satisfying for fans.

However, aside from this the film does suffer in almost every other department. Despite being relatively enjoyable, you get the impression that you are never having as much fun as you should, and this isn’t helped by a disengaging array of characters, a slightly boring plot complete with long periods of not actually seeing the cursed lunatics, and a disappointing finish. Add to this the fact that the film offers about two genuine scares the whole way through and you have a pretty unfulfilling experience.

Artist's impression.

But what about the baddy? Surely a zombie lunatic incarnation of Saint Nicholas can save the film? Well, again, despite on paper being absolute goldust, unfortunately sweet Saint Nick offers relatively little as he surprisingly is not allowed enough screen time. Aside from a few weird sneers and an admittedly cool weapon that he has in the form of his staff, we are not shown enough of him to regard him as either incredibly creepy or a complete badass. Couple this with the terrible ending where you’re not entirely sure what happened to him, and you are left with a very sour taste in your mouth; this, like the rest of the film, feels like it could have been handled so much better.

Saint is an enjoyable effort, but is surprisingly light on the chills and never quite
delivers to its premise. A shame.

Saint (2010), directed by Dick Maas, is available on DVD from Metrodome Distribution, certificate 15.

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