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Tribeca 2011: “Saint,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “Saint,” Reviewed (photo)

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If Santa Claus ever wanted to sue the movie business for slander, he’s starting to have a case. As if the kind interpretations of the North Pole denizen such as Tim Allen’s “The Santa Clause” series or that terrible 1985 film starring John Lithgow weren’t bad enough, he’s had to deal in recent years with the Icelandic Finnish “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” which imagined Santa as a psychotic child abuser, and now Dick Maas’ “Saint,” which suggests the Dutch holiday of Sinterklass is all a big ruse so that Saint Nicholas, a renegade bishop, can return from the dead to seek vengeance in the village where he met his demise in 1492.

The St. Nick in “Saint” doesn’t pretend to like children – he carries around a golden sceptre with a scorpion-like ornamentation on the tip to decapitate them, should he see fit. But since this is R-rated fun, he doesn’t bother with the little ones, instead tormenting a group of college students in the present day as part of his tradition every 32 years to come out during the full moon. He did, however, traumatize one young boy named Goert, a child who was asked to check on the family’s pigs one Sinterklass while inside his parents are slaughtered back in 1968 and now when a rash of killings begins to take place around the holidays, the grown Goert, who has an itchy trigger finger around gifts, is asked to lead the investigation.

“Saint” doesn’t develop much further beyond your average slasher film from there, although the kills are inventive enough and it remains fascinating to see what Europeans have been doing with studio-level special effects to enhance their set-pieces, which take the film into the realm of the spectacular. One sequence in particular – a thrilling police chase where the cops try to shoot down St. Nick as he gallops on his white steed across the rooftops of Amsterdam – seems as though it came out of Timur Bekmambetov’s bag of tricks, but feels fresh with the energy it brings to what at first feels like a smaller-scale film.

When you add in the relatively serious tone Maas brings to an otherwise ridiculous enterprise much like Bekmambetov or Tommy Wirkola (the Norwegian director of “Dead Snow”) – both of whom are now making Hollywood productions – it feels like a potential calling card for future gigs, especially since the film is constantly jumping from one genre to another, starting out as a horror film and ending up as a siege thriller when its protagonists end up on a boat lying in wait for St. Nick. That may not have been the intention since Maas has been making films in the Netherlands since the ’80s, yet just as the film is constantly reinventing itself, perhaps Maas is as well.

Regardless, “Saint” feels like the work of a younger director, with all the messiness that comes with it, but also the sharp edge. Of course, that’s a good thing if you’re in the mood for a St. Nicholas that’s more likely to leave corpses under the tree than gifts.

“Saint” was picked up for U.S. distribution by IFC Midnight and will play the Tribeca Film Festival once more on April 27th.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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