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Writer Jayson Rothwell reflects on Silent Night

Just ahead of its tenth anniversary, Bloody Flicks caught up with writer Jayson Rothwell to reflect on the cult festive favourite Silent Night, the soft reboot of the Silent Night Deadly Night series from 2012.

Here’s what Jayson had to say –

Can you recall how the script came together for Silent Night?

I was asked to look at the project by producer friend Brian Witten and Richard Saperstein. I’ve always been a fan of slasher films so it was a delight to be involved.

The film was released just after the glut of mainstream horror remakes, was this an attempt to latch on to their popularity?

There was no attempt to ride any particular wave of remakes.
However, it’s often easier to get a remake (or in our case, a reimagining) made than it is to convince a studio to finance an entirely original idea.

How long was Silent Night in development?

I wrote several drafts. It moved really quickly from script to screen. Less than a year. My original script had more of a sense of escalating dread.

Steven and the producers introduced the early kill in the basement with Xmas lights. They also changed the name of Jaime King’s cop character from Lorimer to Bradimore…made her sweary. And added her doing a crossword puzzle whilst investigating a serial killer.

Were you concerned about any backlash about a killer Santa film?

We had no fears of any Santa backlash. Quite the opposite. We wanted to make it as bloody as possible.

Were there any ideas you had that never made it into the final script?

Practicality and budget restraints forced Steven to change some of the scripted kills. Also, we ended up hooting in May rather than mid-winter, so several scenes that needed lots of snow or ice had to be changed. I think Steven did a great job of keeping a winter feel, despite the warmer weather. The woodchipper at the Xmas tree farm was his addition. I loved how he did the axe to the face too. Very satisfying.

The film has some memorable and creative kills, which was the most fun to come up with?

Our favourite kill was always the bratty kid. So deserving. And Santa with a flamethrower has become an iconic image from the movie.

Is it true the story was based around the Covina massacre of 2008 also?

This is the first I’ve heard about the Covina massacre, so no, it didn’t influence the film.

The story felt like it was setup for a sequel, was there any consideration from your side about doing Silent Night 2?

Steven and I would love to do Silent Night 2. At this time of year, we usually exchange a few messages along those lines.

What was the collaborative process like with Steven C. Miller?

Steven was brought onto the project after I’d delivered the script, so whilst I have great respect for him and his craft, we didn’t really get to sit down together beforehand.

The film is 10 years old in 2022, how do you think it has aged?

I think the film still feels fresh and fun. Malcolm MacDowell clearly enjoyed his dialogue and playing the hapless almost-hero.

Do you plan to write or direct any horror projects in the future?

I’ve written several horror films in the intervening years. I’m directing one that I wrote for StudioCanal in 2022, called ARACHNID. Guess what that’s about.
And I’m working with producer Steven Schneider on a psychological horror called WHEN NIGHT FALLS which we hope to make later next year.

Silent Night (2012) is available now on VOD and DVD.

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