In December 2006, upon anticipation of its premiere, the film garnered some criticism from religious groups due to its graphic content in a holiday setting, as well as the distributor's decision to release the film on Christmas Day in the United States. The film opened in the United Kingdom on December 15, 2006, and, despite backlash from some religious organizations, opened in US theaters on Christmas Day.
William Edward "Billy" Lenz, a boy born with severe jaundice due to a liver disease, is constantly abused by his hateful mother. After murdering Billy's father and burying his body in the underground crawlspace with the help of her boyfriend, Mrs. Lenz locks Billy in the attic to prevent him from talking. Years later, she attempts to conceive a new baby but realizes that her boyfriend is impotent. She goes up to the attic and rapes twelve-year-old Billy. Nine months later, a daughter named Agnes is born. When Agnes is eight and Christmas comes around, Billy escapes from the attic and disfigures Agnes by gouging out her eye. He then gruesomely kills his mother and her lover. He is caught by the police eating cookies made out of his mother's flesh, and is sent to a mental asylum.
Fifteen years later, on Christmas Eve, Billy, now 35, escapes from his cell and heads off to his former home, now a sorority house for Delta Alpha Kappa. At the house, Clair Crosby, one of the sorority girls, is attacked and killed in her bedroom by an unknown figure. Meanwhile, Megan Helms begins to hear noises and goes up to the attic to investigate. Upon finding Clair's body in a rocking chair, Megan is attacked and killed by the same assailant. In the living room, the other sorority girls, Kelli Presley, Melissa Kitt, Heather Lee Fitzgerald, Dana Mathis and Lauren Hannon, along with their housemother Mrs. Mac, receive a disturbing call from a stranger, threatening to kill them.
Clair's half-sister Leigh Crosby-Calvin soon arrives searching for her. Eve Agnew, whom the girls are suspicious of, presents Heather with a glass unicorn before leaving the sorority house. Kelli's boyfriend, Kyle Autry, arrives but is kicked out when Kelli discovers a video of him and Megan having sex. When the lights suddenly go out, Dana goes to check the power under the house, but encounters the figure in the crawlspace and is dragged underneath and killed. The girls in the house receive a call from Dana's phone, and hear a scream. They leave the house to find her, only for Kelli and Melissa to discover blood splatters under the house where Dana died, while Heather and Leigh find Eve's decapitated head in her car.
Heather and Mrs. Mac immediately flee, but Heather is subsequently killed while inside the car and Mrs. Mac is killed by a falling icicle. When Kelli and Leigh descend to the garage to investigate, Melissa is attacked before she escapes into her room. As she attempts to climb out the window the assailant throws a pair of ice skates, scalping her head. The killer then sneaks into a passed out drunk Lauren's room and gouges her eyes out. Kelli and Leigh then find Lauren's eyeless corpse in bed. Kyle returns, claiming he is not the killer. The three climb to the attic, where Kyle is dragged into the attic and murdered. The killer is revealed to be Agnes, now an adult, while Billy makes his way into the attic. Agnes attacks Kelli knocking both of them into the empty space between the walls of the house. As both killers close in, starting a fire, Kelli and Leigh manage to escape and leave Billy and Agnes to burn in the fire.
Later, Kelli and Leigh recover at the hospital. Billy, who is partially burned, kills the morgue assistant. While Kelli goes for an x-ray, Agnes appears in her hospital room unharmed and kills Leigh. When Kelli returns to her room, Agnes appears through the ceiling and attacks her, but Kelli uses the defibrillator and kills Agnes. Moments later, Billy enters through the ceiling and chases Kelli to the stairwell. They briefly fight, ending with Kelli pushing Billy off the railing where he is subsequently impaled on the tip of a Christmas tree.Katie Cassidy as Kelli Presley
Michelle Trachtenberg as Melissa Kitt
Kristen Cloke as Leigh Crosby-Colvin
Crystal Lowe as Lauren Hannon
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Heather Lee-Fitzgerald
Lacey Chabert as Dana Mathis
Andrea Martin as Barbara MacHenry
Oliver Hudson as Kyle Autry
Karin Konoval as Constance Lenz
Dean Friss as Agnes Lenz
Christina Crivici as Young Agnes
Robert Mann as Billy Lenz
Cainan Wiebe as Young Billy
Jessica Harmon as Megan Helms
Leela Savasta as Clair Crosby
Kathleen Kole as Eve Agnew
Howard Siegel as Beauregard Rice
Peter Wilds as Frank Lenz
Ron Selmour as Security Guard
Michael Adamthwaite as Asylum Santa
Jody Racicot as Morgue Attendant
Anne Marie DeLuise as Mrs. Presley
Greg Kean as Mr. Preston
Black Christmas was shot on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The film was released on Monday, December 25 (Christmas Day), 2006 in the United States and grossed $3,723,364 on its opening weekend.
The film drew backlash from Christian groups because of the studio's decision to release the film on Christmas Day. Several groups, including Liberty Counsel and Operation "Just Say Merry Christmas", called the film "offensive, ill-founded and insensitive". L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke also questioned the filmmakers' decision to release the film on Christmas. Dimension Films defended the timing, saying, "There is a long tradition of releasing horror movies during the holiday season as counter-programing to the more regular yuletide fare." Film historian Michael Gurnow, of The Horror Review, countered Liberty Counsel's complaint, writing, "such crimes occur throughout the year, including Christmas (as recently as a year prior--in McLean and Great Falls, Virginia to be exact)."
The film went on to gross a total of $16,273,581 domestically and $21,510,851 worldwide. With its $16 million in domestic box office, Black Christmas is the lowest-grossing film among the recent slasher remakes, which consist of When a Stranger Calls (2006), Halloween (2007), Prom Night (2008), My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009), and A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010), led by Friday the 13th (2009) with $65 million.
The film holds a 14% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, labeled "rotten" based on 55 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "A gratuitous remake of the 1974 slasher, Black Christmas pumps out the gore and blood with zero creativity, humor, or visual flair." On Metacritic, the film was given an average rating of 22, based on 17 reviews.
Critical reaction tended to focus on the film's overt violence in comparison to the original film. Sam Adams of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Like an ugly tie or a pair of slipper socks, Black Christmas is destined to be forgotten the instant it's unwrapped, gathering dust until the season rolls around again". Jim Ridley of The Village Voice inputs, "The product itself isn't so much afterthought as afterbirth – a bloody mess to be dumped discreetly." When compared to the original, Desson Thomson of the Washington Post calls it "a drab, unimaginative remake. [...] The remake neither pays perceptive tribute to the original nor updates it in anything but hackneyed form." Joe Leydon of Variety goes on to say, "[...] there can be no argument regarding the scant merits of its slapdash, soporifically routine remake, suitable only for the least discriminating of gore hounds." Jason Anderson of The Globe and Mail wrote, "Lazy, perfunctory and free of tension, the new version will satisfy neither the admirers of the original nor anyone looking for a gory respite from seasonal good cheer".
Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle, however, said, "This film is an evocative, effective entry into the holiday blood-spray subgenre in its own right. And if it doesn't make your skin crawl ... you probably ate too much Christmas dinner." Thompson also praised the acting of several of the lead performers, in particular Katie Cassidy playing Kelli, Michelle Trachtenberg playing Melissa, Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Heather, Lacey Chabert playing Dana, and Crystal Lowe playing Lauren. Winstead was later nominated for a Scream Award for her portrayal of Heather Lee-Fitzgerald.
Horror review website Bloody Disgusting gave the film three out of five stars and wrote that the film should not be compared to the original. The site concluded that the film is "a pretty good modern slasher". The Radio Times also gave the film a positive review, giving the film three stars out of five and calling the film a "cheeky but no less brutal remake." In a retrospective by Fangoria, Ken Hanley said the film "benefits from solid and focused direction" and "wears its cringeworthy elements as a badge of honor."
The film was released on DVD and HD DVD on April 15, 2007 by Genius Products. Two versions of the film were released: the R-rated theatrical cut, and the "unrated" cut, which featured extended and deleted scenes. Special features include two documentaries "What Have You Done? The Remaking of Black Christmas" and "May All Your Christmases Be Black" along with deleted scenes and 3 alternate endings (one of which is the UK ending used in its theatrical release). Although the film has yet to be released on Blu-ray in the U.S. it has received a release in Canada and Germany. The film had a short-print run in Canada and only contains the theatrical cut while the German release has both cuts of the film and is region-free.
The UK DVD release of the film contains an alternate death scene for Melissa Kitt along with the aforementioned alternate ending from the plot synopsis.
The film has made more money from its DVD sales than it did at the box office with a total DVD gross of $29,436,341.