Studio: Vertical Entertainment
Apr 26, 2016
Eight holidays receive short horror film treatment in the anthology screamer from a roster of filmmakers that includes Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate), Scott Stewart (Legion), Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim), and most recognizable out of the group, Kevin Smith. Murder, paranormal pregnancies, and damn creepy kids dominate the octaptych, the parts of which waver between clever—if not straight up unnerving—and banal.
Holidays begins with misguided teenage romance on Valentine’s Day. Madeleine Coghlan is chilling as Maxine, a bullied girl in love with her P.E. coach, and with her, directing duo Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch deliver one of the film’s strongest segments. The creative decision to keep subsequent holiday chapters ordered chronologically makes sense, but when the second chapter—Gary Shore’s St. Patrick’s Day—also focuses on a loner on the playground, the similarity between the two is distracting. Shore’s tale distinguishes itself quickly enough, centering around an impressively creepy elementary school student (fabulously played by newcomer Isolt McCaffrey) whose witch-like powers impregnate her teacher with a giant snake. The short ends campily, and whether this is intentional is unclear (the same can be said for many of the installments). While troubled youths connect the first two chapters, misbegotten pregnancies link St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day, and once more, the parallels between chapters weaken both the parts, and the whole.
Anthony Scott Burns’ Father’s Day segment is a standout for creativity. It’s not white-knuckle terror inducing, but it’s smart, and Burns’ direction keeps it tight and engaging. The same goes for Kevin Smith’s take on Halloween—three webcam actresses get revenge on the misogynistic man they work for—which in typical Smith fashion, is twisted and devilishly fun. Were all the other chapters as original, Holidays might have proven a stellar addition to the anthology canon. Unfortunately, most segments come across as bad—or at least uninspired—Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone episodes. Most peculiar of them all is Nicholas McCarthy’s interpretation of Easter, in which a little girl wakes in the middle of the night and encounters an inexplicable, strange Easter Bunny/Jesus hybrid. One has to take the bad with the good in Holidays, but with such oddities thrown into the mix, the scale is tipped more heavily toward bad.
Author rating: 4.5/10
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