Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Holidays (2016) - Horror Anthology Film Review

Every time I watch an anthology film I say the same thing and that is that man, do I have a soft spot for anthology horrors! Saying that I just got flashbacks to Zombieworld which was terrible...but anyway, Holidays features eight different short films tied together not by a central story, but around the fact that, as the title hints at, each of these eight films takes place during a different holiday event.

Things start off with Valentine's Day which was written and directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. This is about a bullied girl named Maxine who has fallen for her swimming coach, her delusions make her perform a grisly gesture to him on Valentine's Day. Things got off to a rocky start for Holidays as this really wasn't anything special. I found a lot of the acting of the young girls to be pretty awful, the way Maxine's delusions featured where interesting in their execution but overall left me feeling a bit cold.

Next was St. Patrick's Day that was written and directed by Gary Shore (Dracula Untold). This short is set in Ireland where a creepy new girl at a school fulfils her teacher's wish to be pregnant, but with the twist she has a giant reptile growing inside her. This is probably the worst one of the lot, it is played quite silly in that no one really finds what is happening to the teacher that weird. It all ends with what would be a cool scene of cultists in animal masks if not for the ridiculousness of it all, it certainly didn't seem like horror.

The third film is also one of the best ones, this was Easter that was written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy (At the Devil's Door, The Pact). A young girl is warned not to stay up at night as the Easter Bunny will be visiting. Needless to say she meets him with disastrous consequences. I loved the look of the Easter Bunny, all I will say is that if you ever wanted to see a mutant rabbit crossed with Jesus Christ then this will fulfil that desire! The special effects were pretty good, especially appreciated live chicks crawling out of the stigmata holes in the being's palms. A lot of religious imagery here and also the only one of the eight films that made me jump.

The fourth film is Mother's Day and unfortunately is a dip in quality, it was written by Sarah Adina-Smith who also directed along with Ellen Reid. This one is about a woman who gets pregnant every time she has sex. so she goes to a spiritual retreat out in the desert seeking aid. A lot of this confused me, I couldn't really understand what it was about. There is lots of nudity including full frontal of an old, overweight dancing woman. It revolves around drugs and does conjure up a dream like atmosphere at times, while I did actually like the ending, overall wasn't really to my liking.

Thankfully next short Father's Day (written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns who did visual effects for the disappointing The Last Exorcism Part II) was amazing, it had a really clever concept. A woman receives a cassette tape from her father who left her when she was a child. The tape provides instructions for how to find him. This was quite a beautiful film, the yearning for the woman to find her lost father is apparent, the way she follows a path she took with him as a girl managed to be both creepy and sorrowful. For what is essentially just a woman walking down empty streets listening to a tape some decent atmosphere is built up. The only thing that ruined it for me was quite a generic ending that many short films seem to resort to for goodness knows what reason.

Halloween is next, I had already heard bad things about this one so my expectations were low. Famed director Kevin Smith (Dogma, Clerks) wrote and directed this one that stars Harley Morenstein (Epic Meal Time, Dead Rising: Watchtower) as an abusive techno-pimp whose girls sick of his behaviour turn the tables on him quite violently. A lot of this plays out by a computer screen conversation by the girls who use no end of emojis. This was quite fun and despite a huge plot hole that stares the viewer in the face constantly throughout I don't see why Smith got so much hate. I guess seeing as it was the Halloween one people would be disappointed as it really could have been set any time of the year.

Penultimate horror short is Christmas that stars Seth Green and was written and directed by Scott Stewart (Dark Skies). Green stars as a desperate man on Christmas Eve who leaves a man to die so that he can steal his virtual reality kit to give to his son. The VR headset is able to show the user tailor made content and Green is horrified by what he sees which is only the tip of the iceberg of his woes. With Playstation VR coming in a matter of weeks I loved the idea behind this one, I thought it was pretty cleverly done, my only real complaint was that in one scene Green and his wife appear to go to bed still wearing the clothes they wore during the day scenes; I found that strange.

The final film is New Year's Eve that was directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate). In this one a serial killer heads out on New Year's Eve to capture his next victim with predictable results. I thought this last one was ok, it was not surprising at all but featured some decent enough effects and some great comic timing and foreshadowing.

All in all it was a bit hit and miss but with just three of the eight being pretty bad I enjoyed this more than I expected. The central concept was a good one that I hadn't seen done before and while not all films seemed to make too much of an effort to fit their holiday theme there was a good smattering of good to great ones here. I reckon at least one of these films will cater to you even if they wont all be to your liking.


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