Comedy Drama

TIFF Review: ‘Silent Night’ is a Festive Ensemble Comedy About Friends, Family and the End of the World

December 3, 2021Ben MK

Whether your idea of a Christmas movie is Home Alone, It's a Wonderful Life or Die Hard, 'tis the season for holiday-themed watch parties. Still, no matter what your festive film favorites might be, chances are you've never seen an Xmas tale like Silent Night, an apocalyptic dark comedy with a Yuletide twist about a seasonal get-together set against the backdrop of a deadly, planet-wide crisis.

The setting is presumably sometime in the near-future, and married couple Nell (Keira Knightley) and Simon (Matthew Goode) are preparing to host a gathering of their closest friends, including husband and wife Tony (Rufus Jones) and Sandra (Annabelle Wallis) and their daughter Kitty (Davida McKenzie), lesbian couple Bella (Lucy Punch) and Alex (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and Sandra's former beau James (Sope Dirisu) and his new girlfriend Sophie (Lily-Rose Depp). What starts out as an ordinary holiday dinner eventually reveals itself to be something decidedly more serious, though, as we learn that a cloud of toxic gas has been killing people and wildlife around the globe. As a last resort, the government has developed a suicide pill that allows citizens to die with dignity and without pain. But when Sophie refuses to take the so-called Exit Pill, the evening quickly spirals into chaos, as Nell and Simon's oldest son Art (Roman Griffin Davis) vows not to let her be the last one of their group left standing.

In many respects, the result is a throwback to British ensemble comedies from the '90s and early 2000s. Yet, writer-director Camille Griffin also manages to set the movie apart by having it double as a clever satire of COVID-era conspiracy theories and the anti-vaxx movement. Suffice to say, Silent Night is about as feel-good as Christmas movies get — that is, until things go awry. But isn't that how holiday festivities typically go anyway?

Silent Night screened under the Gala Presentations programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and is in theatres December 3rd. Its runtime is 1 hr. 32 min.

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