Very much an alternative Christmas movie, and one to counteract the sparkle and schmaltz of the season, this is definitely an adult affair. Silent Night's doomsday context isn't anything new, but it is revealed gradually, shedding light on the underlying tensions and forced positivity ruminating on-screen throughout the first 20 minutes. Knightley's Nell, in particular, is unwilling to let her game face slide, determined to go out with a bang with a night to remember. At its center, it's a slightly shallow character study of people coming to terms with their own mortality and that of those they love, never quite delving far enough beneath the obnoxious behavior to satisfactorily explore some of its complex concepts. Young Art -- played with great sensitivity by Roman Griffin Davis -- is the most relatable character, exploring the confusion and desperation of the situation and questioning the ethics in a way the adults appear to have moved well beyond.
The sinister undertone is suitably unsettling, questioning what lengths characters may go to as they begin to doubt their choices and hit desperation. A pact is in place to take the "exit pill" the government has provided to offer a painless death, but what happens if the pact is broken or the plan doesn't work? There is a constant unease about exactly where this is going, which plays right out to the final scene. There is some humor -- all of it dark, much of it swearing related -- and a great use of music, including the theme to Fame, with the lyrics "I'm gonna live forever" blaring through the speakers as the adults get increasingly intoxicated to escape reality. Entertaining, if a little uneven, Silent Night is likely to appeal to those who enjoy a darker take on their holiday entertainment, with simmering tension, a flicker of humor, and a solid helping of existential angst.