Cinematic Releases: A Christmas Horror Story

The Halloween season is upon us, and so are the scare flicks.

"Damn straight! I'm horny!"
I am a sucker for horror-themed Christmas movies with Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) and Rare Exports (2010) being a few of my favorites. There is something about seeing such a jolly holiday mish-mashed with blood and gore that tickles my tinsel and lights up my star. A Christmas Horror Story is the newest entry into the subgenre and for the most part, it’s a fun little gift that keeps on giving. It’s directed by John Fawcett, one of the creators for the hit TV show Orphen Black and it’s also by the same people who made the Ginger Snaps series of films.

The film is an anthology of sorts, but instead of each story being separated they are all interwoven with each other and sort of connected (if tenuously at times). William Shatner plays DJ Dan, a radio host that is the main narrator of sorts—his role serves as the “wraparound’ plot that ties the whole thing together. This is a novel approach to this type of storytelling and the writing is clever and interesting.  Some of the tales get wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste and as is the case for all anthology type films, some stories are stronger than others. The variety of plotlines also contributes to a weird mix of tone and atmosphere because the director tried to blend everything together and some of it doesn’t jive well. I did enjoy trying to figure out how all the elements were going to finally fit together and the story kept my interest the entire time.

"I'm coming down your
chimney tonight."
Luckily, as a horror film in general, A Christmas Horror Story has some very scary scenes and the special effects and make up are pretty damn good. There is quite a bit of gore, but at times it does go for the more subtle type of dread. In particular, the plotline involving a bad ass Viking-style Santa Claus (George Buza) fighting the demon Krampus (and his army of undead zombie elves) is awesome and definitely the highlight of the flick. The budget seems to be higher than other films of this ilk and the cinematography and editing look great. Krampus’ costume and make up is outstanding and is easily the most impressive thing in the movie. There is tons of Christmas music used in the soundtrack to good effect and watching the carnage unfold over cheery caroling songs is hilarious.

Most of the acting runs the gamut from mediocre to excellent, but that is to be expected with such a large, diverse cast. I can imagine a bunch of horror fans putting this on during the Christmas season and having a few laughs over some rum-spiked eggnog. While it is wildly uneven, there is enough good material available to push it over the edge into solid B movie status. So gather your friends underneath the mistletoe and get ready to have a bloody good time. 


-Michelle Kisner

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