A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
” You Better Watch Out”
A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
Director: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Cast: William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer
Synopsis: Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.
It’s the day before Christmas in Bailey Downs (which might have been a reference to George Bailey from the Christmas perennial It’s a Wonderful Life had it not already served as the location for two of the directors’ Ginger Snaps movies), and the town is still haunted by memories of the unsolved murder of two students at its high school the previous Christmas Eve. But while Dangerous Dan (William Shatner – Airplane II: The Sequel, Miss Congeniality), the town’s DJ, attempts to distract its citizens from memories of the recent past with a selection of public-domain Christmas tunes, a new set of unfortunately not-so-horrifying tales are unfolding around town. In one, three students decide to sneak into the school to film a news report commemorating the anniversary of the murders, only to find themselves in danger of suffering a similar fate; in the next, following a visit to the forests that surround the town, one of its police officers and his wife find that their young son has been possessed by a changeling; meanwhile, a family lost in what is presumably the same forest find that they are the prey of a fabled Christmas demon called Krampus. Finally, as Santa makes his last-minute preparations for the Big Delivery, he’s unnerved to discover that his elves have turned into bloodthirsty zombies.
Usually, the quality of the stories in anthology movies is variable, with some filler material squeezed between the good stuff. However, A Christmas Horror Story is comprised almost entirely of the kind of second-rate material that would provide the filler in other films. The directors dispense with the usual anthology format, choosing instead to interleave the stories – even though they’re stand-alone tales which share only a common location – instead of telling them separately. Inevitably, this means that the movie jumps about a bit, particularly as we’re familiarising ourselves with the various characters in the first act, and prevents the movie from gaining any traction. The only story that contains even a pinch of originality – and which has a pretty neat twist – is the one in which Santa finds himself battling a small army of zombie elves, but ironically this is the strand which receives the least screen time. The other three stories are really so weak that they would struggle even to find a slot in some cheap TV anthology show. The Krampus section does at least have a reasonably impressive monster, but the other two have almost nothing going for them. As always, William Shatner is a treat to watch – but when one of the best things about a horror movie is some old guy talking into a microphone, you know something isn’t right.
(Reviewed 13th November 2015)