SHOCK weighs in on holiday-themed horror anthology.
Anthology films are tricky business. Getting a cohesive theme with many different visions isn’t always as easy as it sounds, and one bad segment can weigh down an entire film. HOLIDAYS has a solid theme: each horror-comedy short is based on a holiday, and a troupe of talented filmmakers keep up the quality throughout the calendar.
Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch start us off with Valentine’s Day and the tale of a teenage girl who is in love with her swim coach, and the bullies who torment her. Gary Shore gives us St. Patrick’s Day, a modern tale that revolves around St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. Nicholas McCarthy handles Easter, in which a little girl tries desperately to understand what Jesus and the Easter Bunny are doing sharing a holiday. Sarah Adina Smith, the only female director in the group, presents a vision of Mother’s Day in which a woman gets pregnant every time she has sex, regardless of how safe she is. Anthony Scott Burns takes on Father’s Day, where a girl gets a mysterious recording from the father who left her when she was a child. Halloween comes courtesy of Kevin Smith, and sees some “webcam girls” get revenge on their boss/pimp. We skip Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas, where Scott Stewart’s take sees a man pushed over the edge to get the perfect gift for his son. Adam Mortimer finishes out the year with his ode to New Year’s, in which a crazy guy gets more than he bargained for on his first date since killing his last girlfriend.
There is nothing new here. Most of the stories are things we have seen over and over again, or have a “twist” that is obvious from the first minute of the segment (Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day specifically jump to mind), but that doesn’t diminish the presentation. I loved the teenage girl’s expression in the final reveal of Valentine’s Day; and even though I knew where Father’s Day was going from the first scene, it was a tense, creepy journey.
I love that the directors took liberties with their representation of the holidays. Mother’s Day doesn’t specifically take place on Mother’s Day, but it explores issues of motherhood. Christmas wasn’t about a killer Kringle, but about something far more horrifying: getting the perfect gift. New Years and Halloween were the only shorts which could have taken place at any time of year, and that was disappointing, especially Halloween. Other than some cheap candy and the girls wanting to go out and celebrate Halloween, it could have taken place on President’s Day. Regardless, it was still a fun, tasteless gross-out.
HOLIDAYS is a fun compilation with a cadre of talented directors who bring their A-game. Just don’t go in expecting something new and twisty and you will enjoy yourself.