When the man who directed The Lift (1983) and Amsterdamned (1988) makes a movie, you better pay attention. Both movies traumatized a generation, possibly for ever, I still have friends too scared to step into an Elevator as a result of Dick Maas’ image of horror. Needless to say when I heard that Saint (aka Sint) was going to be shown at this years Frighfest, I was incredibly excited.
Set against a legend, December the 5th haunts many in Holland, they fear the legend of St Nicholas, while others blow it off as a terrible story invented to scare children. Forget what you know about St. Nicholas, this is a man who centuries ago walked the land with his horde of angry followers, raping, kidnapping, stealing and murdering. For Goert the horror is only too fresh in his mind, back in 1962 (the last full moon on December 5th) St. Nicholas and his burned soldiers (all burned in a fire centuries before by angry villagers) sailed their ship into his village, and killed his whole family. Now in 2010 a full moon falls on Amsterdam, and Goert knows that terror is about to return.
I was I confess very disappointed with Saint, I had such dark expectations, a movie like this could have been so horrible, so terrifying, that it became a legend in its own right. Sadly Maas opted to turn the movie into a tongue in cheek image of an invented legend.
You cannot help but draw comparison to John Carpenters Fog, a ship filled with souls who feel they need to avenge the ancestors of those that killed them, a slow looming fear, and a fear that can only return at a certain time.
Saint feels a little bit Disney, it’s a dark story lightened up by almost gremlin type group of characters, the darkness of the story can really only be told in text, because in the movie it comes off as being quite silly. It follows a very 80’s style story, with a group of dumb teens trying to fight of a centuries old evil. And yes being as it is 80’s inspired there also has to be the permanent sexual reference.
What is hardest about the movie is the complete lack of emotion, both between the characters, and through the storytelling. At the end of the movie there is a fairly large scale massacre, one that without a doubt should have an element of emotion attached to it, but there is absolutely nothing, it’s simply pushed under the carpet, much in the same way someone might cut a finger.
Saint is a movie that will scare, but only scare an audience too young to see it, it feels a little bit like watching an episode of Doctor Who, and likes it is aimed at the same audience, but it’s certificate seems otherwise. Maas missed too many tricks, firstly in not making his movie scary enough, secondly in not making it tame enough for a child audience, who would appreciate it.
I do have one piece of praise for the movie, and that is that it really sells Holland as a must have place to visit, death aside!