“A Christmas Horror Story” tries to do for Christmas that “Trick r Treat” did for Halloween, and really just ends as a mediocre effort with best intentions. While the efforts of the collective filmmakers to deliver a Christmas anthology for the horror crowd isn’t an awful movie by any means, it’s still a mixed bag of stories, all of which vary in tone and leave the overall film feeling bipolar in some respects. It even reaches for a clever surprise ending that just felt like a cheat for the sake of an obligatory “Gotcha!”
“A Christmas Horror Story” is an anthology in the spirit of “Trick R Treat” in where we’re given four stories involving a group of characters set during the Christmas holiday. All four stories intertwine in subtle ways but really the film jumps back and forth between tales, which can be interesting and aggravating. Just when a story is reaching fever pitch, we cut to another segment completely shredding the pacing. That said, what treats “A Christmas Horror Story” delivers, are worth the time invested. The collective of Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan provides unique concepts on basic Christmas themes.
The stand outs, of which, include the tale of the couple that trespass on a land to steal a tree for Christmas. When their son goes missing, they’re relieved to find him safe, but slowly realize what they brought home may not be their child. It’s a morbid and utterly surreal little tale with some memorable moments. I also rather enjoyed the tale of the rotten family being stalked by Krampus who learn something about themselves they never wanted to admit; it felt reminiscent of “Father’s Day” from “Creepshow.” Unfortunately the big dud of the film is the generic tale of a group of teens that break in to an abandoned school to investigate paranormal activity, and end up getting more than they bargained for.
Despite the presence of Christmas ornaments and music, it’s a pretty dull segment that drags on forever with no pay off. The film is book ended by William Shatner who plays a radio DJ relentlessly giving his listeners the Christmas spirit, despite the fact that a local mall is being bathed in blood thanks to a mass killing ensuing. While his is not much of a story, there is definitely a purpose that just comes off more like a reach by the writers to deliver one last punch to the gut. It’s not a masterpiece, but the minds behind “A Christmas Horror Story” certainly have the right idea for their anthology and create some genuinely interesting concepts, which will at least inspire viewers to commit until the closing credits.