I was a fan of the first Silent Night, but the sequel was a bit of a letdown. I was annoyed that Reva simply went back to being terrible. It would have been more compelling if she tried really hard to be a better person, had it blow up in her face, and then said “fuck it, why bother?” Instead, Reva’s character just felt like more of the same. I did enjoy the comedic angle of the delusional and incompetent kidnappers. It was the most believable part of this story. I thought the dynamic of Diane’s “just like in the movies” mantra matched with Pres and Danny’s poor planning skills worked out really well. Unfortunately, the overall plot was a bit anti-climatic and predictable. So far as sequels go Silent Night 2 was a solid enough effort. I like that it kept things fun and never took itself too seriously, but it needed an additional twist to pull off something as satisfying as the first book. I guess I just wanted more for the second outing of the Regina George of Shadyside High.
Observations & Spoilers
Silent Night 2 picks up roughly one year after the events of Silent Night. Reva is back to working the perfume counter at Dalby’s Department Store. Reva doesn’t want or need the job and treats it as such. Being back there is very triggering for her, but Daddy thinks she needs to tough it out. This is the exact level of sympathy I would expect from an old rich, white dude like Mr. Dalby. He’s definitely the “you gotta pull yourself up by your bootstraps” type that completely misunderstands the meaning of that phrase (pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is physically impossible). And of course, Reva has changed course after deciding to be a better person at the end of the first book. There’s no real reason given, she just reverts to her old self. I wish the book had opened with her trying to do a good deed, fail miserably and have it blow up in her face, and then decide that being good is just not worth it. A scene like that alone would have taken barely any time and would have made a much more compelling narrative arc than the one we got. And it honestly would have made her more relatable.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, fired Dalby’s employee Pres is dreaming up a kidnapping scheme with his girlfriend Diane. They want a way to get back at their old boss and get rich quick. They decide they’re going to kidnap Reva. They do some sloppy work of tailing her and fuck up their first attempt when they realize she isn’t home. Diane keeps dreaming of them being criminal masterminds “just like in the movies,” but masterminds they are not. They end up recruiting Pres’s older brother Danny for help. Danny is a very emotional boy who can’t control his temper, making him a wild card. When they finally follow through with the kidnapping, they accidentally grab Reva’s cousin Pam instead.
Pam really has been getting the shit end of the stick. Reva’s been trying to steal her new boyfriend, Victor. Then she covers Reva’s shift in the stock room and gets kidnapped. When the kidnappers try to get a ransom from her, she finds out that her rich Uncle isn’t willing to pay. That’s gotta sting. She gets let go anyway, much to everyone’s surprise. She never saw her kidnappers so she can’t tell them anything. Reva goes about her life but thinks she’s being followed. When she shows up at Pam’s house on Christmas Eve, she and Pam are both kidnapped. The belligerent Danny breaks Reva’s arm and slaps Pam hard enough to bruise. The girls are then left tied up in an old hidden break room at Dalby’s while their captors make the ransom call to Daddy. This is when Pam confesses that she worked out a deal with the kidnappers; that she would give them Reva if they let her go.
This twist wasn’t entirely shocking. I would do the same thing in Pam’s position, especially after how horrible Reva had been and finding out her rich Uncle wouldn’t even pay ransom to set her free. Why she didn’t tell all of this to the investigators as soon as she was safe is a plot hole we will just skip over. Maybe she wanted Reva to pay, but to work with clearly incompetent criminals in a half-baked scheme? Seems to me like she had options as soon as she was free, kidnappers were stupid and had nothing on her to compel her cooperation. Regardless, she went along with it, and now Pam realizes she’s in over her head. She and Reva apologizer to each other. They work together to get untied and then run for it.
The chase scene ends with Danny dives into an empty elevator shaft because he thought the girls took it down and didn’t realize it was broken. This scene was clearly set up in the first few chapters when Mr. Dalby told Reva not to use the broken elevators. Why that shit wasn’t caution-taped off is another plot hole we will not be addressing. The scene ended up being the lone grizzly death of Silent Night 2. The FBI shows up right after; they knew where the kidnappers were because they called from the mall and Mr. Dalby had a “number revealer” on his landline phone. This was 1994, so caller ID was still a novelty. Pres and Diane are arrested, with Diane bemoaning the fact that it wasn’t like in the movies. All ends well with Reva re-learning the exact same lesson as in the first book. I can’t wait for her to re-learn the exact same lesson again in Silent Night 3.
For the scoring of each book, I decided to rate them based on five criteria worth 2-point each. I then split that number in two to give it a rating out of 5 stars. Those criteria are Concept (the overall idea), Execution (the mechanics of storytelling), Character (the protagonists, antagonists, and villains), Scare Factor (from a childhood standpoint), and Originality (subversion and reliance on genre tropes). Based on GoodReads aggregate ratings, Silent Night 2 is ranked 65th of 79 in the overall Fear Street series and 11th of 13 in the Super Chillers sub-series, placing it squarely in the bottom tier for both. It should be noted that the series ranking for the Fear Street books is a bit skewed in favor of the later books in the series, most likely due to the drop in popularity in the late ’90s. The books in the latter half of the series have a significantly lower number of ratings, which (I’m hypothesizing) is due to super-fans being unchecked by more critical voices.
Stupid criminals in over their heads in a kidnapping plot gone wrong. It straightforward overall it works. I just wanted something more elaborate.
It almost felt rushed. The first book was elaborately plotted and I really enjoyed the payoff that I did not see coming. This one was fun in spite of the fact that I could see the ending coming from a mile away.
I want to give this full credit but Reva at the beginning reverting back to herself just didn’t make sense. I wanted her to either think she was being good or give up on trying for a good reason.
Scare Factor: 1/2
The kidnapping scenes are pretty jarring, and a stark contrast from the silliness of the “just like the movies” kidnappers.
Not the most original. A sequel needs to up the stakes, and this one lowered them.
Don’t miss the next post in the Fear Street blog series:
Fear Street #9: The Stepsister
COMING IN January 2021
Also, be sure to check out the latest from the Pulp Horror blog series:
Richie Tankersley Cusick’s The Locker.