Horror anthologies have always had a special place in my heart and seemed to make a big comeback with films like ABC’s of Death (2012) and V/H/S (2012). Since then we’ve gotten to see directors, big and small, come together and create some really fun horror tales that otherwise might not have been given the chance to see a feature-length treatment. Over the last year alone we’ve seen holiday-centric anthology films with Tales of Halloween (2015) and A Christmas Horror Story (2015) -- I didn’t forget the wonderfully gory Trick ‘r Treat (2007) but, for the sake of this review, I’m only going off of the last year. This year, a handful of directors in horror decided to come together and create an anthology that covered the majority of the major holidays in the calendar year (but also left out some important ones, as well - but we’ll talk about that later.)
Let's just jump right in, shall we?
Valentine's Day - written & directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer
Probably one of the least memorable segments for me, Valentine's Day follows Maxine (Madeleine Coghlan), who is relentlessly bullied by mean-girl, Heidi (Savannah Kennick). Her bizarre crush on her swim coach, who happens to be in need of a heart transplant, gives her the push she needs to prove just how much she loves him. It’s completely predictable and unfortunately, it felt like Kolsch and Widmyer didn’t even try on this one. It’s a story we have definitely seen before - the 80’s synth-driven music, the mean girl bullying the meek, quiet girl until she eventually snaps...this isn’t a horror fan’s first rodeo.
St. Patrick’s Day - written & directed by Gary Shore
Elizabeth Cullen (Ruth Bradley) is a school teacher who wishes for nothing more than to have a child of her own. Unbeknownst to her, the quiet, redheaded little girl who refuses to smile will end up making that wish come true - it just might not be exactly what she planned. One of the only humorous segments in the film, this one didn’t take itself seriously at all. By the final minutes, everything was so bonkers and nonsensical that it wasn’t even enjoyable for me and teetered near "WTF" territory.
Easter - written & directed by Nicholas McCarthy
As a young girl is tucked into bed the night before Easter, her mother tells her all children must be fast asleep before the Easter Bunny can come and leave goodies. What worries the girl, though, is the man named Jesus who is supposed to come back from the dead as well. Naturally, she wakes up in the middle of the night and comes face-to-face with something that no child has ever seen before -- and she’s going to pay for it. This segment was the first of several in this film that ended right when the good stuff was happening, unfortunately. It was actually pretty creepy and didn’t do any favors for my Easter Bunny phobia.
Mother’s Day - written & directed by Sarah Adina Smith
Kate (Sophie Traub) has a problem; she gets pregnant every time she has sex. Her doctor suggests she attend a fertility ceremony in the high desert, run by the doctor’s sister. I think we know where this one is going to go…
This was another segment that, despite having a really cool concept, was hindered by an abrupt ending. Some backstory to the women running the ceremonies would have been a nice touch, as well.
Father’s Day - written & directed by Anthony Scott Burns
Carol (Jocelin Donahue) receives a package containing a tape player and a cassette from her deceased father. Recorded years prior, when she was a little girl, her father leaves her directions to a place where she can find him as he’s been waiting for her ever since. One of my favorite segments, it’s a bit heartbreaking. With hardly any dialogue from Donahue, the father’s voice heard through the tape player lends an eerie and dread-filled vibe, amplified by the fact we have no idea where he’s leading her. There were a lot of components that came together in the short amount of time, which made this such a well-done segment. My only gripe is it suffers from another abrupt ending with little to no real answers.
Halloween - written & directed by Kevin Smith
Ian (Harley Morenstein) runs a webcam house where he basically pimps out girls for online sex shows - and he’s a bit of a dickhead. The three girls he “employs” (one played by Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith) finally decide they’ve had enough of his shit. This was probably the least holiday-themed segment of the entire film. There wasn’t much more than a few background pieces to suggest what time of year it was. As a horror fan, I was pretty bummed about that. We all love Halloween, we expect it to be treated better than that. It did have potential and alllmost seemed like it was going to go in one direction but then tossed that aside and went for a safer bet.
Christmas - written & directed by Scott Stewart
Pete (Seth Green) goes to the extreme to get his son the virtual reality glasses he so desperately wants. The glasses claim to “show you YOU!” What Pete doesn’t realize is that the glasses are serious, and his actions to get the gift come back to haunt him. It’s another one of the shorter and more forgettable segments. It was a cool concept but needed to be fleshed out a bit more. I won’t spoil anything but the segment would have fared better had they shown it from the wife’s perspective.
New Year’s Eve - written by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer - directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer
Reggie (Andrew Bowen) is an obsessive killer who winds up on a date with Jean (Lorenza Izzo) after getting a 96% match on a dating site. Though we can only guess what his intentions for her will be, he finds out that hers are much worse, when she brings him back to her apartment. Decidedly better than most of the segments, this is another one that could have benefitted from a couple of extra minutes spent on some backstory. I also am going to need Izzo to play more crazy-lady roles (except Knock, Knock. That was bad.) Oh, and Andrew Bowen, I need him in more horror movies, please.
Overall, Holidays seemed to miss the mark more than not. The segments were quick and to the point for the most part, which was actually a downfall for the majority of them - and I’m annoyed that there was no Thanksgiving segment! Please don’t leave us with Thankskilling for another year! Complaints aside, the score was kickass and the cast, as a whole, was pretty good. I won’t tell you to skip out on Holidays, but I won’t be mad at you if you take your time on giving this one a watch.
~ Stacey-Beth (@TheStaceyBeth)
Stacey was the creepy kid growing up who would bring VHS copies from the video store of Prince of Darkness and Zombie to her sleepovers. Now she's the creepy adult that brings blu-ray copies of Prince of Darkness and Zombie to dinner parties. Fascinated by all things macabre - if it involves the occult and/or true crime, she's in. Currently living in the Hill Country of Texas with her ferocious Yorkie and her husband, she also runs her own horror blog, To Avoid Fainting, where she mostly tries to sound like she knows what she's talking about, while watching scary movies.