Sunday, November 15, 2015

Christmas Horror Story, A (2015)

Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Notable Cast: William Shatner, George Buza, Percy Hynes White, Olunike Adeliyi, Rob Archer, Jeff Clarke, Jessica Clement, Zoe de Grand Maison, Amy Forsyth, Adrian Holmes, Shannon Kook, Debra McCabe, Michelle Nolden, Alex Ozerov, Alan C. Peterson, Corinne Conley

The horror anthology film is not something that is all that new and the style has gone through spurts of popularity throughout the years. Since the (long awaited) release of Trick R Treat in 2009 though the style has seen an upswing of popularity. The ABCs of Death franchise, the V/H/S franchise, and just this year we had Tales of Halloween for the season of spooks to keep it moving. However, the latest horror anthology to feature a holiday theme, entitled A Christmas Horror Story, might be one of the better ones I’ve seen lately. Similar to Trick R Treat in its attempts at using the tone of a holiday as a launching pad for its four interweaving tales of Christmas terror, A Christmas Horror Story ably navigates a solid variety of different horror genres in its quick hour and a half run time and it effectively comes off as a fun and entertaining film that works on almost all levels.

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s a time for good cheer and excitement for most people. For a small group of people in the same town though, this year is going to be a frightmare of shock and terror. Whether it’s the haunting ghost of a young girl at the school, the mysterious return of a lost child from the forest, a family stalked by a vicious monster, or a Santa who has to battle off ‘infected’ elves, this Christmas is going to be one for the books. Just not for merriment.

Look out for paranormal activity!
The best aspect about A Christmas Horror Story is that it gets four very different style horror stories into the mix of the film. A ghost tale, a monster flick, a zombie saga, and a killer kid story all make for a well rounded horror viewing experience. While the connections between the various tales are fairly surface level at best and lack the inter-connectivity that Trick R Treat pulled off so well, the stories themselves are pretty well developed and fun. Even the William Shatner powered framing device, which seems detached from the rest of the stories initially, makes a wicked comeback spin to fit right in as a solid twist in one of the stories and it might be the best surprise that this film has to offer.

There's...something on the...air. Some...thing.
There is always going to be spikes and dips of quality in any anthology film depending on each story. It’s no different in the case of A Christmas Horror Story. The Santa Vs Zombie elves piece is the most memorable story with a fun performance, swearing zombie elves, and a final fight that any B-grade action fan will be excited to see, but the other stories can be a bit more hit and miss. The ghost story delivers some great atmosphere and some gruesome bits although it’s a bit cliché, the Krampus attack lacks a bit of build for us to care entirely about the family (although it works in the kind of humorous gimmick that made Tales from the Crypt episodes so much fun), and the ‘what’s wrong with my kid’ portion tends to end with a whimper compared to how well built it was for a short film. Luckily, none of the stories are a dud, but only the Santa one is the outrageously fun one that is given a home run by a great finale.

Beast mode.
All in all, A Christmas Horror Story is a blast to watch though. The stories are all well done for the most part and they hook the viewer as the film leaps between stories to keep the structure of the film as a whole moving in the same bursts and build for the audience. It’s not a perfect anthology flick, but four diverse stories partnered with some great Christmas atmosphere make for a very entertaining film that ought to become a holiday favorite for genre fans.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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