For a comedy-horror hybrid that speeds along as quickly as “Sint” does, it’s amazing how it doesn’t go anywhere that exciting. It’s so determined to be the best darned goofy gore fest it can be that its own genre gets the better of it, and the film winds up admiring its parts so much that the whole can’t find any energy to come up with a decent narrative. Although “Sint” got higher box-office figures last year than any other movie in its native Netherlands, it’ll be difficult to convince anyone to even release it in America, and if there’s any justification for catching it at the Tribeca Film Festival, it’s the understanding that it’s the only chance you’re probably going to get.
At least it’s got an entertaining bad guy, and even though there’s a few other slasher movies that each have a bloodthirsty Santa Claus in them, it’d be difficult to find one where he looks as bizarre as this. Actually, everybody calls him Niklas (Huub Stapel), and ever since medieval peasants burned him alive for his dirty deeds, he evens the score in the afterlife by having a killing spree every 32 years to commemorate the anniversary of his death on December 5. Before you accuse him of being a knockoff of Freddy Krueger, keep in mind that while they both pissed everyone off enough to incinerate them, the peasants who had it in for Niklas attacked while he was aboard a ship at sea – so his aquatic demise makes him a knockoff of Jason Voorhees, too.
In any event, Niklas makes a particularly lasting impression on a boy who opens the door to his home and finds everybody dead. He grows into a bitter police officer named Goert (Bert Luppes), who’s been biding his time for 32 long years in anticipation of another attack. The locals dismiss him as a fool, but Frank (Egbert Jan Weeber) becomes a believer when Niklas comes after him and his friends, inspiring him to join Goert’s hunt for the least likely boogieman since Franken Berry.
And so it goes. “Sint” might be action-packed, but because it doesn’t know how frightening (and funny) the concept of Santa as a ghoulish butcher can be, it’s boring in a way you’d think would be impossible. There’s also the issue of all that adrenaline not allowing any room for suspense, so the whole thing falls flat no matter what angle you approach it from. You better watch out, indeed.
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