Director Grant Harvey, known for his extensive resume of providing tight storylines on several television shows, and on his feature horror film Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004) now returns with a stellar anthology flick entitled A Christmas Horror Story. This film had a limited theatrical run before storming onto the VOD and DVD markets, thanks to RLJ Entertainment and making cane candy slammed into the eyes of the unsuspecting with this interwoven tale of macabre sugary tale of woe centered on Christmas Eve. This is all told from the viewpoint of one truly festive and maybe semi-buzzed radio host DJ Dangerous Dan namely incredible William Shatner, an actor known for working in likely every genre of film, and with natural timing making him a lasting force in the cinematic world. One must note, that Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan both who have connections to the Ginger Snaps films dating back to (2000) also took turns in the director’s chair, and planted an Easter egg in the story for the fans to locate on their own.
Cruelly bitter eve of Christmas December 24 and viewers are first introduced to a weathered and bloodied Santa Claus (George Buza), then his reindeers Blitzen and Comet, before the rattling of stable doors announces pure wondrous evils, which seek more than mere coal. It all quickly transferred to our DJ who starts the event off in a quaint little town of Bailey Downs with the opening of the first tale. Three investigative teens Molly (Zoe De Grand Maison), Dylan (Shannon Kook) and Ben (Alex Ozerov) looking for answers to a savage double homicide that went down in their own school hallways a year prior. The basement underneath served as a convent and they think it is perfect opportunity to add some creepy production value to their video documentary on the subject. While a snobbish family travels to see an estranged excessively wealthy Aunt Etta (Corinne Conley) and arrogant son named Duncan (Percy Hynes-Whyte) who breaks a Krampus statue, in front of the mysterious henchman Gerhardt (Julian Richings). Meanwhile another family headed by Scott (Adrian Holmes) who investigated the double homicide, does their version of National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation, to go out into the wilderness to their tree only to meet a Changeling. Flipping back to the elves and Santa, and weather report, and around and around to the other stories, appearing to them as ongoing tales, hence a different pattern than other tales with interconnecting pieces. Nothing quite like bloodied Zombie elves, a demonic Krampus (Rob Archer) rally against the Santa, as slices and dices Shiny and Jingles but all is not as it seems in the wild tale of Christmas Cheer! Shatner adds an entirely colorful feel to the entire production, silly sappy utterances over the radio all for the enjoyment of viewers, with non-political correct behaviors, issuing Christmas cheer even with terror swirling around and axes slamming into many.
A downside that many agree is the drastic change in the telling of stories in the anthology standard, the stories themselves generated more suspense and terror if told individually, but otherwise the film works with regard to a bit sluggish each time a new tale starts or picks up again. The bloodstains cover the stories nicely, including the bloodied baby, for an added measure, and of course the creepiest child Will (Orion John) for the entire tale, his actions well done for such a new and young actor. A jump scare occurs, some though telegraphed well in advance, but the story runs a well-paced course with the cast providing ample support. Otherwise the productions have crispness; and allow the scenes to fully present themselves to the audience and have the necessary settings to show all the dangerous of the seasons.
The crossover of horror tales invading Christmas grows more each season, rarity of these seasons intersecting, now fading into the background with the passage of time. Now with Halloween and Christmas seasons competing at the stores, in fact, on October 19, 2016 the first seasonal commercial of Hersey’s kisses played, so when this movie first came out in October of 2015, some scratched their heads, however not anymore. Nevertheless, the film delivers holiday horrors and yuletide screams drenched in blood, for all the good horror fans.
This review was originally published in December 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website with a view count of 1,677.
TAGLINE: You Better Watch Out
IMDb Rating: 5.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10