A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY (2015)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 39 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

ChristmasHorror poster

Directed by: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban & Brett Sullivan

Written by: Jason Filiatrault, James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor & Pascal Trottier

Starring: William Shatner, George Buza, Percy Hynes White, Olunike Adeliyi, Rob Archer, Jeff Clarke & Jessica Clement

Christmas horror films are nothing new and neither are horror anthologies. However, I don’t think I can recall these two subgenres ever colliding. A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is one of the many scary selections hitting Video-On-Demand services for the Halloween season. Like many anthologies (of any genre), the film as a whole is a mixed bag of stories. However, there’s only one real stinker of the four yuletide horror tales being spun here. The film lays out four vaguely connected plots spreading across one Christmas Eve night. The narrative also joins them together in a CLOUD ATLAS meshing where we keeping cutting between the stories as they all simultaneously begin, play out and then come to (bloody) conclusions. This effect might be a bit confusing in the beginning (as you get introduced to four sets of characters), but I found that it kept my interest quite nicely. Now, on to the stories themselves…

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Story #1: The first and least holiday-related tale follows a trio of teenagers who venture into their school’s basement in hopes of investigating a former crime scene. They quickly find themselves trapped in the freezing cellar and figure out that they aren’t alone. This segment is easily the worst of the four presented here. It really doesn’t blend in well with the other tales (which all have something deliberately Christmas related about them) and resorts to a lot of cheap “boo!” scares. This is all stuff that you’ve seen before in better horror movies. There’s nothing good or interesting about this story, other than a semi-creepy location. D

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Story #2: The second plot thread follows a typical body count formula. A family of scumbags try to weasel their way into the good graces of two rich relatives in order to mooch off them. However, their plan goes sour and they find themselves stranded on the side of a wintry country road. It quickly becomes apparent that a muscle-bound Krampus is hunting them down one-by-one. For a story that follows the “slasher” formula, we don’t receive any memorable kills. This version of Krampus looks far more like a wrestler than he does an intimidating monster. However, there is always a bit of enjoyment to be had in watching over-the-top horror characters die in bloody ways. C+

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Story #3: This third plot thread is a notable one. A family of three venture into snow-laden private property to chop down the perfect Christmas tree. While on the walk back, the child mysteriously disappears, only to be found hiding in a hollow tree. After returning to their home, the husband and wife find themselves at odds with each other and their son’s unnatural behavior escalates in creepy ways. I pretty much predicted how this story would play out right from the get-go (mainly because of some familiar folklore), but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. If anything, this story feels like it would serve nicely as a holiday special of TALES FROM THE CRYPT. B

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Story #4: The most over-the-top, ludicrous plotline winds up being the best thing in this entire film! In the North Pole, Santa finds himself confronting blood-thirsty zombie elves. He believes that something far more evil is behind this mysterious zombie virus, but he’ll have to make his way across a massive workshop to discover the truth. This story is delightfully campy the whole way through and has a pretty awesome conclusion that paid off in spades. Once I saw the bloody punchline to the whole thing, I enjoyed it even more than I already had up to that point! A-

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The four tales of A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY weave in and out of each other with vague connections, but the main wraparound is William Shatner as a drunk radio host. Though he’s only in the film for a total of five minutes, Shatner proves that he still has a strong screen presence. With a title like A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY and a poster that showcases Santa battling Krampus, you don’t exactly walk into this film with serious expectations. It’s simply not that kind of movie. If you’re looking for a goofy horror anthology that manages to be entertaining in spite of obvious faults, then you’ll likely have fun watching A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY.

Grade: B-

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