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.
This little slice of horrific, festive fun went down a treat at this years’ Frightfest. An anthology feature with some original stories at the core, it really brings together the best of the Christmas season and mixes it with some truly entertaining delights. Like Silent Night Deadly Night crossed with the best of Stephen Kings’ episodic adaptations this really delivers on a number of levels.
An anthology with four stories set on Christmas Eve it begins with a radio presenter in the form of the legendary William Shatner as he brings in the merry, yuletide spirit and acts as a sort of narration to the film. Then it transcends through a group of high school students making a very realistic documentary about a mysterious homicide the year before, a couple who’s young son starts acting very strangely after a trip to the forest to cut down a tree and a family who are hunted through the snow by Santa’s evil nemesis Krampus. Whilst all of this is happening Santa is trying to fight off a few little problems of his own over in The North Pole. So there is nothing short of action-packed fun to be had here!
Each segment has something definitive in it that is both funny and quite scary at times. The directors at hand – Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan – have really pulled together to create something quirky for the upcoming season. There is a spooky atmosphere that glistens through the collective narrative and really creates a great tension. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but then at the same time it isn’t too silly either.
The music score is cheerful mixed with a spice of fear and the film holds a host of great performances from the cast; most memorable of which has to be Shatner who is simply perfect for the role of Dangerous Dan who gives the film a voice, literally. There is lots of action and although CGI plays a part to some extent, there is a great deal of authenticity here too and nothing stands out quite as much as seeing Santa have to fight off evil and not merely deliver presents to children. This is the darker side of Christmas. One of the best horror films of late, this is one to enjoy again and again especially over the jolly period, perhaps even with a cheeky mince-pie to soak it up with!
The Christmas Horror story is one of two holiday themed multi-director horror anthologies being released this autumn, the other being the online only release of Tales of Halloween. Of the two this was the real favourite, guessing its just the dark side of the saccharine season that peaked my interest.
Unlike all the other schmaltzy tinsel and ‘family’ filled movies that fill cinemas and shelves at this time of year, this one focuses on the darker tales of Christmas, entwined along with a classic ghost story comes three other tales of Zombies, Krampus, greed and goblins. It’s a weird and erratic mix of styles and subgenres that shouldn’t work together, but somehow do.
In recent years, horror anthologies have had a slight resurgence thanks to the ABC and VHS brands. Nether of which on the whole I’m a big fan of (especially the VHS trilogy). Christmas Horror Story however attempts something slightly different, the stories all run concurrently instead of one after another, and all run at different tempos.
Keeping the film running as the stories jump from one timeline to another around the town of Beadly Falls is DJ ‘Dangerous’ Dan, played by William Shatner, who gets to show off his perfect comedic timing with his eggnog laced rambling broadcasts. While there are some decent genre actors within the rest of film, none are really memorable in their roles as the stories (and the captain) take centre stage.
For me the biggest let down of the film, was the more standard ghost story – with film students locked in a school making a film about the christmas massacre (a rather loose connection to Christmas compared with the other tales). While it had some decent jump scares, it all felt a little out-of-place compared to the others dealing with mythical Christmas creatures and lore.
The ending of the film (which I wont spoil here) is probably one of my real favourites of recent memory, certainly comparable to Trick-R-Treat’s perfect wrap-up. Christmas Horror Story is a great fun film and will most definitely end up in my collection to watch for years to come when the season comes around each year, along with Sint & Gremlins.
A Christmas Horror Story is out on DVD on 9th November 2015