By Empress Eve
Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am
A Christmas Horror Story Blu-ray | DVD | Instant Video
DIRECTORS: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
WRITERS: James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor, Pascal Trottier
STARRING: William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer, Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
RLJ Entertainment | Image Entertainment
Release date: November 24, 2015
As soon as I saw the cover art for the home video release of A Christmas Horror Story, which features Santa Claus battling Krampus in a design that looks like the people behind Game Of Thrones could have created it, I knew I was going to love this movie. As it turns out, I totally did.
I’m just getting that out of the way right up front.
A Christmas Horror Story is a Christmas horror film that includes the kind of old-school frights we’re used to viewing in October, along with the whimsy we’re used to getting during the yuletide. Imagine if Home Alone was just a tad less endearing and much less slapstick, but ten times more bloody. It looks beautiful for a low budget production, especially one of the horror genre, and has a vibe similar to Trick ‘r Treat, another anthology film I love.
There are four stories taking place on Christmas Eve all being told simultaneously throughout the film, while William Shatner‘s DJ Dan, a radio show host in the Ontario town of Bailey Downs, tries his hardest to spread some Christmas cheer to his listeners despite his weatherman Norman behaving like a humbug. DJ Dan is the common thread through the four anthologies shown, which includes a group of teenagers who break into the school where murders occurred on Christmas Eve last year; a cop with PTSD who investigated the murders takes his wife and young son into the woods to chop down a tree to use for Christmas, which endangers his little boy; a family of four goes with selfish intentions to visit their wealthy elderly aunt and end up angering the spirit of Krampus; and finally, Santa himself has trouble at the North Pole when his elves turn into psycho zombies, and Krampus arrives for the final conflict.
After seeing this Canadian production, I think I have a new favorite movie Santa in George Buza, who plays the big man in red more like Odin than a jolly old belly laugher. I would totally take my kids to sit on his lap for a photo op! When he comes up against the foreboding, horned Krampus (Rob Archer), we feel that Claus has more than just a fighting chance, as if there’s a warrior inside him. But, Krampus is pretty badass too, which is why when the duo go head to horns, it’s a real treat.
Before any of the stories begin, the opening credits sequence rolls, featuring the classic early 20th century carol “Carol of the Bells” and lets it ride for a while before turning it into an ominous chant, foreshadowing the frights to come. This swoops right into Santa’s North Pole workshop, that looks more like a fortress right out of Lord Of The Rings. The immortal elves start to act strangely, with one turning into a zombie! Elves aren’t supposed to die, right? Santa and Mrs. Claus don’t think so. What’s happening here? And on the most important night of the year, too.
Right after we met Santa is when we get to Bailey Downs, which is apparently the scariest town in Canada. You might recognize it from the Ginger Snaps horror films, which all three directors — Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan — worked on.
I’m a big fan of Canadian actor William Shatner (of Star Trek fame, of course) and he was delightful in this film, so I’d have been happy just to watch his DJ Dan do his Christmas Eve radio show for 90 minutes. But, A Christmas Horror Story gives us much more, and with a twist as well.
Of the four horror stories, I enjoyed Santa v Krampus the best, but as far as human interest goes, the PSTD cop and his family had the best mixture of drama and classic horror. I don’t want to give away what happens with them, so I’ll just say that the feel of this story was much like The Monkey’s Paw: You’re not terrified in a Friday The 13th type of way, but there is a horrifying aspect to it, and there’s a parent’s pain of witnessing their once loving young child become something different. Actress Oluniké Adeliyi‘s wife and mom Kim Peters is a standout in this for sure, though thankfully the acting was very good throughout the film for all the characters.
The segments with the family of four weren’t as dramatically compelling at first, but as their story unfolds, we learn more about them. Plus, Krampus is pissed at them, so that was cool, and there were some humorous parts here. I felt this portion was more in line with something you’d see on Tales from the Darkside.
Lastly, there was the group of teenagers: their storyline was very Blair Witch Project (minus the shaky cam) meets I Know What You Did Last Summer; typical teens out doing something they shouldn’t be doing in a scary place, and there’s some sex involved. This one I found less interesting in comparison to the others, and a few times I even forgot why they broke into the school, but younger viewers would probably follow along with this one the most. I want to point out that this was one of the only times where I wasn’t hoping for the teens to get wiped out; it’s likely because they weren’t bratty, emo, or ultra stupid — they were actually there to do a school project, so the annoying-teen factor was at an all-time low I’m happy to say.
A Christmas Horror Story is a well-made anthology film that combines frightening tales with Christmas whimsy, with a dose of Shatner that’s sure to please. It’s the perfect edition to your holiday horror viewing, especially come December 5th, Krampusnacht (Krampus Night).
The home video release comes with a 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that I found very enjoyable, and wish it had been longer. If you enjoy the film, and this particular type of storytelling, then check out this bonus feature.
It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill…unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came to a grisly end in a school basement. Now, one year later, a new set of horrors has come to town. As three friends explore the site of the massacre, a malevolent spirit is determined to keep them there forever. One of the first cops to the scene of the bloody murders has new complications as his seven-year-old son exhibits terrifying and violent behavior. And when a local family seeks reconciliation with an estranged aunt for the wrong reasons, they suddenly find themselves running in terror from Krampus, the demonic anti-Santa Claus. Not even St. Nick is immune to the terror as he fights back against a horde of zombie elves. This is destined to be a holiday no one will ever forget!
A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY Official Trailer
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, peace and goodwill. But for some folks in the small town of Bailey Downs, it turns into something much less festive. When Krampus – the anti-Santa who punishes the naughty children – is summoned by a young boy, everyone’s fight for survival begins.