SAINT **** Netherlands 2010 Dir: Dick Maas. 85 mins

The fearsomely evil Saint Niklas (Huub Stapel) storms a village in 1492 and becomes the stuff of legend for kids throughout the ages: if you’ve been bad enough, and if it’s a full moon on the massacre’s festive anniversary, St Nick will show up and you can kiss your innards goodbye. An Amsterdam-set return to horror for AMSTERDAMNED director Dick Maas, this isn’t short on clichés (including the innocent-man-wrongly-suspected routine) but hits the bullseye as a festive slasher movie.
Maas revels in good old fashioned limb lopping / axe-in-the-bonce kill scenes and captures a rich and atmospheric festive ambience against which to set striking scenes of the imposing, horse-bound St Nick parading the wintry streets with his brutal army of “Black Petes”. Even though the tone is fun, there is one genuinely sinister set piece that ends boldly (though discreetly) with three dozen kids burned alive at a childrens’ hospital. SAINT avoids the contemporary pitfalls of lapsing into either trendy sadism or post-modern smugness, and Maas creates an effective mythology for his impressive monster.

Review by Steven West

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