The Night Before

“This is the kind of movie that’s so bad, you gotta tell someone about it.” Can’t take credit for that, as it was my viewing companion, but she’s dead-on. The Night Before is a putative Christmas comedy that’s putrid in execution and puts the rank in rank amateur.

Three stoner dramatis personae have a tradition, as mindless as whoever concocted this as a plot device: to hang out and get blotto together on Christmas (and also to try and seek passage to an exclusive party, The Nutcrackers Ball).

Their leader is soon-to-be-dad Isaac (a frumpy-dump Seth Rogan), so if this is a Hero’s Journey, this is more of the sandwich variety. Milking the lazy stupefied Peter Pan-t-load mien he’s come to adopt in just about everything, Rogan’s Isaac is terrified at the prospect of growing up and pending fatherhood. His wife, sensing this, enables Isaac in a kind of last night of freedom: giving him a container full of pharmaceuticals so he and his pals can cut loose Hangover-style, minus the charm, direction or the comic timing.

That an 8 month-along mom-to-be would do something that stupid beggars belief, but even dumber, that her “rock,” (“Like Dwayne Johnson”, she ‘jokes’. Seinfeld eat your heart out) would actually indulge….well, that’s the set up, for a movie that’s so tonally off, it needs a tuning fork, and is about as enjoyable as a set of cymbals clanged upside your noggin.

The usually reliable Joseph Gordon Levitt (Ethan) cuts a wan, labored Kevin Spacey figure as a loser who’s still hung up on an ex years later and resorts to side hustle work as a Santa elf (he’s even the butt of a joke: “a 33-year old elf?” In terms of age-inappropriate behavior, though, he gets off easy)

And to round out the idiot triumvirate (the name “Three Stooges” is already taken) is Chris (Anthony Mackie), a star NFLer, who — and kudos here for the realism — is suddenly a breakout star due to banned substances.

The Night Before features repugnant bathroom sex, steroid abuse, dick pics, a nose-bleed into a Martini, projectile vomiting during midnight mass, and a host of indignities too numerous to be unaccompanied by even the slimmest shred of wit or joy. And also James Franco and Miley Cyrus. The state rests, your honor.

As willfully ugly as a Christmas sweater, and as actively repellent as any comedy ever made.

* (out of 5)

Horror Movie Dictionary: Christmas

Horror movies are notorious for being calendar cash-ins. There are movies centred around Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve Spring Break, and of course, Christmas. Things have gotten so out of hand, there’s even a Bloody Wednesday.

Since their advent (see what we did there?) there’s seemingly a new Kris Kringle killer film every year.

For the most part, they’re exquisitely awful. Luckily for us though, there are exceptions.

There is the morose, downbeat psycho-slasher Christmas Evil, cited by John Waters as “the greatest Christmas movie ever made,” (take that, It’s a Wonderful Life). The French new waver, À l’intérieur (Inside) is undeniably excellent, and there’s no denying Black Christmas was influential laying down the North American template for stalk ‘n’ slash POV, even if Mario Bava beat it to the punch.

The 2010 Dutch import Saint (Sint) gives us a not-so-jolly St Nick light years removed from cringy fire-engine felt mall Santas, and Night Train Murders is a stylish Video Nasty from the 70s, set in Munich on Christmas Eve.

When it comes to snowy desolate isolating winters, nothing beats Kubrick’s The Shining for capturing the chilly milieu.

And for our money, far and away the best snow death is featured in the Canadian classic, Curtains (For our take on that epic tax shelter flick, check out our Curtains discussion on the Really Awful Movies Podcast).

And speaking of Christmas, if you’ve got a horror movie fan in your life (and really, if you don’t, you probably should)…check out our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.

It’s the perfect stocking stuffer (or is that, “stalking” stuffer?). But don’t take our word for it (this is just an expression. Take our word for everything else that appears on this site). Rue Morgue Magazine said:

“…what separates Death by Umbrella! from your run-of-the-mill glossary is the amount of heart and appreciation within its pages…Recommended for gorehounds, list-lovers and trivia fiends…”
The very best (and even some of the worst) films have heart and appreciation. We did our best to reflect that in our selections.