A Christmas Horror Story
I know, this is not exactly seasonal at this point, but we can blame it on the vagaries of my Netflix DVD queue. Lately I’ve been watching more horror movies, which may or may not be a product of being stuck at home for so long. This one really surprised me because I haven’t seen a for real Christmas horror movie since Silent Night Deadly Night, which was quite a while back and while looking up that title I have discovered a slew of red and green themed horror films, like A Cadaver Christmas and Bikini Bloodbath Christmas. Sorry CFR but I will need to investigate this genre more fully in the coming year.
A Christmas Horror Story has several different stories that are connected in some way, which apparently is called a hyperlink story, or an anthology story, or an intertwined story, or an interlocking story. Pick your poison. All the stories in this movie are good thrillers that could probably carry a full length feature. Framed by William Shatner showing off the other profession he could have starred in, he drinks his way through a Christmas Eve radio show that starts out super pro Christmas and sounds a little different after the first bottle. He’s got the voice for it, and he puts in a good, though short performance. Each story is a somewhat different subgenre of horror like students cruising through a creepy old school while investigating a gruesome murder, and they get locked up for the holidays. Another is a little boy who wanders away from his parents in the woods while Christmas tree hunting and comes back a little different than he went out. A rich family hides a terrible secret. And my personal favorite is a trip to Santa’s house at the pole, where the elves get into something that turns them into my favorite monster. My favorite line in the movie? “It’s like Paul Bunyan and Count Dracula gay up and built a damn home.” How do you not like writing like that?
Not knowing who’s naughty and who’s nice for most of the film creates a solid thriller that is augmented by finding out quickly any character at any time can be turned into christmas tartar. The settings are all creepy, even the North Pole, with great direction and lighting, which tends to hide more than it shows. Cinematographers who light like that get my respect and loathing at the same time, because even though I love horror films this is one of the top scariest things in my book. There is also a number of classic horror uses of mirrors. The film makers used all the tools in their toolbox, and it didn’t feel like being hit over the head with a self aware brilliance and I appreciated that. The acting was good all around, and I was very impressed with the kid actor. If anything can drag a movie screaming into a pit of awfulness it’s a kid actor (The Shining).
My biggest complaint is that having to tell so many stories from start to finish and making sure it’s obvious how they’re related makes the film feel really draggy at times. I don’t know that there was any actual fat to trim, but there’s a lot and I felt fidgety at times.
I recommend this movie for solidly made, creepy good time. It’s up to you if you want to wait till it Tis The Season.
CFR: In Addition: LOLOLOLOL! I have to laugh at myself. When I first got this review I thought it was just A Christmas Story. I couldn’t quite understand the references to horror at first. 🙂 Note that is movie is also streaming on Amazon Prime so I am going to go watch it.