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You Better Watch Out
on 9 January 2013
5th December 1492, a former bishop named Niklas leads his gang into a village where they slaughter half of the population. The remaining villagers decide they've had enough of Niklas and his gang, so they row out to their ship and set it on fire, killing everyone on board. 5th December 1968, four children are singing by the fireplace when their father hears a noise outside. He sends his oldest son called Goert out to go check on the pigs, when he returns from the barn, he spots a figure walking across their roof and a man on a horse carrying a staff. He enters his house and discovers a bloodbath, and his younger siblings have gone. Amsterdam, present day. The tales told of Niklas and his gang have now come to be believed as nothing but a fairytale that people tell to their children, he's now known at Sinterklaas. Goert is now a police officer and is convinced that the full moon on December 5th will signal the return of Niklas and his gang, his belief in this happening lands him in trouble with his superior and he's put on leave for the rest of December. Just as Goert predicted, Niklas returns and they begin to slaughter the citizens of Amsterdam. A student called Frank survives an attack and eventually bumps into Goert, and the two of them try and put an end to the curse once and for all.
Unlike most American horror films that have really unlikeable "teenagers" playing major roles, the young characters in Saint are reasonably likeable. Even though they're young and attractive, there's no blinding white teeth, washboard abs and silicone breasts, you can actually relate to these kids. Frank is played quite well by Egbert Jan Weeber, if the film has a main star then he's probably it. He was in his late twenties when he made Saint, I didn't find it at all distracting as I love '80s slasher films where people in their twenties regularly played teenagers. Bert Luppes is good as Goert, there's a hilarious scene near the beginning of the film where he enters the police station, spots a wrapped up box on his table and proceeds to shoot it five times. I know he's worried about Niklas coming back to continue the murder spree, but it's safe to assume he's not in the box. Caro Lenssen plays Frank's love interest, she's very pretty and puts in a good performance, she was also in her mid twenties. Huub Stapel is okay as Niklas, he just doesn't really get that much to do and I felt he was slightly wasted in the role. It was nice to see him though, as he's appeared in most of Dick Maas' Dutch films, most notably in Amsterdamned and the Flodder films.
Saint was a welcome return to horror for Dick Maas, a genre he had success with in the '80s with De Lift and Amsterdamned. He finally came to America and made two movies, Do Not Disturb and a remake of his own film De Lift called Down. I thought they were both okay, but they weren't very successful and he eventually returned to Holland. I thought Saint was by far his best film since Amsterdamned in '88, and it seems that he's another director who seems to make far better films back home than in America. The makeup effects on Niklas and his gang are well done, like another reviewer pointed out, they're very similar to the pirates in John Carpenter's The Fog. There's quite a few good gore moments, but nothing that really stands out. There's a good rooftop chase sequence with Niklas leaping from roof to roof on his horse, despite the CGI being a little too obvious here and there. Dick Maas also provides the music for the film as he always does, it sets the tone quite nicely.
The picture quality is very good, it's quite sharp and detailed. It's a Dutch film so it has English subtitles. Sadly there are no extras on the disc at all, there's just the film itself and scene selection which was disappointing. I was having a little trouble deciding whether to give the film three stars or four, the complete lack of extras pretty much made my mind up. Saint is exactly what I expected it to be, a festive horror film with black comedy running through it. If you've seen any of Dick Maas' other horror/thrillers you'll find they all have comedy in them. Saint certainly isn't a great film, it isn't even Dick Maas' best film, but it is an extremely enjoyable, often funny, sometimes gory, '80s throwback that works a lot better than the similar US film, Santa's Slay. I really did enjoy Saint, and with a runtime of just over 80 minutes, it never gets boring. If there's a Dick Maas film you should watch, you should really go for the excellent Amsterdamned, but Saint is just about the next best.