A Christmas Horror Story, 2015
Directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Starring George Buza, Rob Archer, Jeff Clarke, Jessica Clement, Percy Hynes White, Zoé De Grand Maison, Amy Forsyth, Ken Hall, Debra McCabe, Michelle Nolden, Alex Ozerov, William Shatner
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.
In the same vein as Silent Night, Deadly Night, Black Christmas, Santa’s Slay and Christmas Evil, A Christmas Horror Story is here to but a black cloud over the most wonderful time of the year. Only this one is doing things a little different. We’re not just getting one tale of terror, we’re getting four.
Ala The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt (or more recently V/H/S and The ABCs of Death), A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology movie from directors Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan. But rather than just lay them out one by one, A Christmas Horror Story plays them all concurrently, which really ramps up the tension that it builds. It allows for each story’s troughs to match another’s peak, which makes for a brilliant viewing experience. Not only that, but each one takes on a different subgenre of horror. So we have a ghost story, a zombie movie, a monster mash and a possession tale. But as with any anthology movie, some are better than others. What’s more surprising though is that arguably the most christmas-y stories – Santa vs. zombie elves and a family fighting off Krampus – are given the least amount of time.
Which is a shame as the ghost story – following three teenagers filming a documentary on the death of two children in their school – is probably the weakest story of the lot. Its biggest problem is that its so formulaic and by-the-numbers that it almost feels pointless. And when you look back at the movie when all is said done, this segment probably has the most screentime. The other non-Christmas-y segment follows a troubled couple who chop down a Christmas tree in some woods they shouldn’t be visiting and quickly lose their son in the process. This is actually a really effective segment, thanks in part to a superb performance from the young lad, who looks to be having a ball as “Will”.
As stated previously, the Krampus story isn’t given nearly enough screentime, but what it does it does very well. The monster effects on Krampus are fantastic and it has an incredibly satisfying close. But the real highlight of the movie is Santa vs. zombie elves. Yes, you read that right: Santa vs. zombie elves. I don’t even need to say anything more for you to know why this is awesome. Not only is it the most fun and gruesome, but it also has the best ‘WTF’ close that is so perfectly pitched, you’ll struggle to pick your jaw back off the floor.
But that’s not all: this is all bookended and joined together by a radio host known as Dangerous Dan, played by none other than William Shatner. And guess what? Shatner is fantastic. If this film didn’t have Father Christmas kicking the crap out of crazed toy makers, Shatner would have all of the best laugh-out-loud moments. He’s so brilliantly dry to the point where he feels like Captain Kirk doing an impression of Alan Partridge. So much of his material must have been ad-libbed, but it’s golden either way.
Perfectly balancing horror, comedy, thrills, spills and Holiday cheer, A Christmas Horror Story is fan-bloody-tastic and the new benchmark for Xmas related horror films. If this can gain enough of a cult following – which it more than deserves to do – this will long become a favourite among the horror community for Yuletide film watching. It’s always naughty and never nice, and you’re going to love it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.