Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sint (2010)

Do the Netherlands count as a Scandinavian country? If yes, I continue my Nordic bent this week with another comedy-horror offering from way up North, but this time with a holiday twist. Sint was released in the U.S. as Saint Nick, “Sint” being short for Sinterklaas.
Writer and director Dick Maas’ St. Nick is not the benevolent, bearded, jolly gift-giver you thought he was. At least, not when it comes to Amsterdam. In the 15th century, the apostate cleric sailed to the city from Spain every Christmas Eve (December 5) during the full moon to terrorize citizens as he sat upon a white steed. He and his “Black Petes” pillaged, plundered and brutally murdered men, women and children before retreating to his waiting schooner. Although it’s not explicitly stated in the film, I suspect the Black Petes are Spanish Moors. Finally, the townspeople unite to destroy St. Nick and his henchmen by setting fire to their ship.
Unfortunately, but predictably, this event does not mark the end of St. Nick’s bloody visitations. Every full moon, he returns to Amsterdam with the Black Petes to avenge his death. Sadly, his main target is children, but he will kill anyone who happens to get in the way.

In the present day, Kurt (Bert Luppes) is an anxious, astute cop on the outs with his department. His fellow officers think he’s nuts for believing that Sinterklaas is responsible for the periodic attacks. The official, happy story is that every year Sinterklaas comes from Spain bearing gifts for all the good children. As a little boy, Kurt was the lone survivor when St. Nick massacred his three siblings and parents on their small farm one snowy December 5. Kurt will tell anyone who’ll listen about his wackadoo theories, but every one brushes them off as mere myth. He meets flaky teenager Frank (the very cute Egbert Jan Weeber), who witnesses St. Nick’s evil deeds. Ultimately, Kurt reluctantly teams up with Frank to combat St. Nick with the only weapon that works against the crotchety cleric: fire. The two men successfully send Sinterklaas back to hell! Or do they?... Streaming on Netflix now.
Warning: there is one offensive scene in the film in which two of Frank’s friends don blackface to dress up as the Black Petes on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Europeans are not as racially sensitive as Americans. If you search for images of “Sint” on Google, moreover, you will find more racist imagery that I don’t believe is meant to be hurtful, but to our eyes, it seems that way. If you have strong feelings about blackface, then, you may want to skip this scene.

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