Saint (2010)
By: Devon B. on December 23, 2013 | Comments
Vendetta Films | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080i | Dutch DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 88 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Dick Maas
Starring: Egbert-Jan Weeber, Bet Luppes, Caro Lenssen, Juub Stapel, Escha Tanihatu
Screenplay: Dick Maas
Country: Netherlands
It's said history repeats itself, and Saint, or Sint, is a good example of that. In the 80s, Xmas classic Silent Night, Deadly Night was protested against because the promotional material made the movie seem like it featured a psycho Santa. In the decades that followed there've been quite a few Xmas movies that did genuinely have a killer Klaus, but none of those seemed to create the stir of Silent Night, Deadly Night. Until Saint, which also ran into some trouble over its artwork. Kiddies were disturbed by the demented Sint Niklas on the poster, and their parents got their knickers in a twist and tried to get the poster pulled. Fortunately saner heads prevailed, and it was ruled parents could solve the problem themselves by telling their children the creepy guy on the Saint poster wasn't the real Santa.

Except maybe he is, because Saint opens with the real Sint Niklas getting murdered on 5 December, 1492. Turns out Niklas was less a saint and more a shit, and that's why he was killed. Proving that the Catholic Church's desire to cover things up isn't restricted to paedophilic priests, the history of Sint Niklas got muddled until he became the cause for celebration that he is today. But if people run into him on 5 December, and if there's a full moon, they'll find Sint Niklas is out to kill, even if they've been nice. A cop whose family was slaughtered the last time there was a full moon on 5 December tries to alert people to the danger, but all that gets him is some unscheduled leave. He won't give up that easy, and braces himself for battle with the evil saint.

Dick Maas is the man behind Saint, and brings the same sort of wacky charm to the film that he showed in The Lift, giving Saint quick pacing, goofy gore and a tongue-in-cheek feel. Sint Niklas seems to be a creepier figure in the Netherlands than he is in Australia, as even on non-full moon years there's the threat of stealing away naughty children and taking them to Spain, and he also has an army of black elves called Black Peters. Maybe the elves aren't that much creepier than the Australian version, but they are charred. So is Sint Niklas for that matter, but I think this Freddy Kruger aspect is unique to Saint and isn't the normal way the story goes in the Netherlands. It does seems like 5 December is actually the big day there, not 25, but I guess the Dutch often dance to the beat of a different little drummer boy, so it's not really a surprise that they're slightly off time.

What's not off time are the jump scare tactics of Saint, which frequently tries to jolt the viewer. Usually these surprise moments are amusing, but the film is overall more a comedy than a horror flick, so the main goal isn't to terrify. I thought the shocks were fun, and most of the other aspects of the film are well done. In fact, aside from some dodgy CG, Saint is an extremely competent and entertaining piece of holiday cheer. The film is also very well photographed, with the snowy streets of Amsterdam providing a great scenic backdrop for Sint Niklas' rampage.

Fans of Rare Exports should really dig Saint, as will anyone who likes off kilter Xmas movies. Or off kilter 5 December movies, as the case may be.
The Disc
The slick says Saint is presented at 1.78:1, but thankfully that's a mistake and it's 2.35:1. The movie is sharp and clear, but there is a fair bit of motion blur and judder. It's a shame that those issues are so persistent, because otherwise the film looks nice. Unfortunately the transfer is 1080i, so that's another disappointment with the video. The audio is available in Dutch or English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes. The English track is a terrible dub best avoided, but the Dutch one is a solid track. There's not necessarily a lot of cause for the surrounds to kick in, but when the film has a reason for the audio to flex its muscles it does so admirably. Things like loud crashes, glass shattering, gun fire and explosions are all well rendered, usually with good spacial placing. The English subs are somewhat inconsistent, not translating written text and the occasional line of dialogue, but this wasn't too problematic. Vendetta have opted to be Scrooges and not include any extras, so this disc is bare bones.
The Verdict
Saint is a lot of fun, and definitely a new staple of my Xmas viewing. This Blu-ray leaves plenty of room for improvement, but at least it wasn't very expensive.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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