On the 5th of December 1623, Sinterklaas – a marauding pillager who, with the help of his gang of Black Peters, had held a reign of terror over a little Dutch village for ten years – was pushed to sea on a burning boat and killed. Now, every 32 years he returns to wreak a bloody revenge. Sound stupid? Well, it is. It is stupid. Very stupid.
Without any real knowledge of the ins and outs of the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas (Sint for short), it’s hard to care about some random saint carrying out a random spate of murders in early December, with random periods of time in between. The excuse is that whenever there is a full moon on December 5th, Saint Nicholas will return – on horseback, with a big staff and a burnt face – and kill everyone in sight in increasingly bloody ways.
For the film to be effective, Sint needed to be rendered in an absolutely terrifying way. Unfortunately he ends up looking like a child dressed as a bishop in a Freddie Kruger mask, riding a rocking horse. One scene in particular stays with the viewer for a few days afterwards in terms of sheer stupidity, and that is when Sint is being chased by police through down town Amsterdam. He is galloping on his horse over the rooftops, while the police cars ride on the streets below. He is galloping and galloping and jumps across a gap, when his horse is shot and falls onto a police car. Aside from the fact that this doesn’t actually make sense – is Sint a corporeal figure who can be shot? Or a ghost on a living horse? – the whole thing looks so amatuerish and cheap that one wonders why they even bothered.
It’s a cheaply made, boring film based on a local Dutch legend that has absolutely no cache outside of its home country. If they had put a little more effort in and really made the film horrifying, then the fact that the legend is little-known wouldn’t even matter. IMDB describes the film as a horror/comedy, but in truth it is neither funny nor scary. Just a little nudge in either direction would have been enough to save this mess of a film from total banality.
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