I’ve been doing this little horror film review gig for about four years now and every year around this time, I get in the mood to watch some good ol’ Christmas-themed horror flicks, naturally. It seems, however, that every year, Christmas comes and goes and sadly, I really never actually review any of the films that I have planned. Well, hopefully I can change that this year, starting with this bad boy, A Christmas Horror Story with segments directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett Sullivan.
Not quite your traditional horror anthology film, A Christmas Horror Story features multiple intertwined segments featuring characters who all have some sort of connection to the others and all taking place in the small town of Bailey Downs. I say not ‘traditional’ because there is really no introduction or clear separation between the tales; Each story is connected in one way or another.
Depending on how you break things down here, A Christmas Horror Story can be seen as five separate segments. All taking place on Christmas Eve, the stories are as follows: a malevolent spirit that has locked three teens inside of a school, which was the scene of a grisly murder one year prior; a police officer (Adrian Holmes, Debug) [who investigated said murder] and his wife unknowingly bring home a changeling after their son goes missing in the woods where they chop down this year’s Christmas tree; a family of four travel to visit their strange and secluded aunt and after a series of truths are revealed, are hunted down by the anti-Christmas demon, Krampus (Rob Archer, Bulletproof Monk); Santa Claus (George Buza, A Little Bit Zombie) is getting ready for his yearly tradition of global gift giving, when a sudden infectious outbreak causes all of his little helpers to become a vicious horde of the undead; A local disc jockey (William Shatner, Star Trek) is getting in the Christmas spirit and spreading his good cheer across the Bailey Downs airwaves.
Like all anthology films, there are some stories that are more effective than others. For the most part I really did enjoy the entire feature, but I also have my favorites. I especially enjoyed Santa Claus fighting off zombie-like elves, a segment directed by the film’s producer, Steven Hoban. This story has the most ‘Christmas spirit,’ as one would expect, considering it featured jolly old Saint Nick, himself. To me, George Buza makes the perfect Santa Claus with an unmistakable look and a profound performance, perfectly fitting for Father Christmas. The foul-mouthed elves were hysterical, while still maintaining a great sense of horror as Santa chopped them into bits to save himself and end the outbreak. The culmination of this fun little tale shows the inevitable battle between Kris Kringle and the Krampus demon, which I now place amongst the best battles seen in a horror film, right next to the likes of King Kong versus Godzilla and even Freddy versus Jason.
The Santa segment is filled with some impressive practical effects, as is the story that I would consider the weakest of them all — the ‘nativity scene.’ This part of A Christmas Horror Story is the one that involves a trio of teens trying to film their own little documentary on a gruesome murder that took place in their school one year earlier. They get trapped in the basement of the school where the actual murder took place. There was really nothing special about this particular narrative, other than some neat prosthetics and make-up effects including some ritualistic Catholic murders involving crosses and things of that nature. While it was the worst of them all, it was still a nice little touch, adding some paranormal to a horror film that had no other real supernatural stuff going on, for the most part.
A Christmas Horror Story may not be for Christmas what Trick ‘r Treat is for Halloween, but it is certainly a noble entry for the season. It has some great stories, strong performances, and a pretty gnarly overall look with effective lighting and impressive cinematography; It is a fun little flick with an awesome twist ending that everyone should see. Be sure to pick up a copy on Blu-ray or DVD, available now from RLJ Entertainment.
I give this holiday horror an official Repulsive Rating of 4 sharpened Santa staffs out of 5.