Another horror anthology was thrown to us horror fiends this April. Entitled Holidays, the anthology covers-you guessed it-the major holidays celebrated. While I think this could have also gone with the title, Hellmark Holidays, it does deliver unique stories and classic, albeit safe entertainment. Segments directed by Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer, and Ellen Reid. Writing credits go to Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, and Dennis Widmyer.
For this type of film, I think it’s easier and more appropriate to review each story individually. That being stated, semi-spoilers are coming as the holidays covered will be revealed. Read on, you crazy horror diamond.
VALENTINE’S DAY: Directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch
It’s hard being the first segment in any anthology. You automatically set the pace and tone of the rest of the movie, and the audiences expectations are based on your first few seconds. The Valentine’s Day segment was very artsy, and after learning that it was directed by the duo responsible for Starry Eyes, this little fact made sense. The story was pretty basic, one that was definitely inspired by other horror writers and typical, heartsick stories sent down the teenage grapevine. It was short, simple, and didn’t really leave much room for growth or shock. We pretty much knew what was going to happen half way through this tidbit. The actors were mostly teenage girls and without giving away the gist, I’ll just say they did their roles admirably.
SAINT PATRICK’S DAY: Directed by Gary Shore
Out of all the stories, this one had me the most freaked out. It stands out against the rest for several different reasons: one being that it actually focuses on Irish lore and not on drunken festivities (well not too much anyways) and two, the evil fucking redheads really do set your spine on chills. Only in the end are you done being freaked out and smile. But you’re still going to feel weird about all the goings-on. It’s not traditional horror in my point of view but it does what horror is supposed to do to audiences. It’s hard to explain, just watch it. The acting in this one is superb as well- no (unintentional) awkward moments.
EASTER: Directed by Nicolas McCarthy
This tale of the Easter Bunny will put the fear of God into children- literally. This mash up of holiday meanings and parents with kind intent will set any kid straight after viewing. However, the SFX makeup in this one had me turning my head side to side in wonderment- and not in a good way. Interesting concept for sure and it left little to the imagination, which worked perfectly. Don’t watch if you’re a Cathoholic.
MOTHER’S DAY: Directed by Sarah Adina Smith
Ever wonder if some movies could also double as fashion ads? This Mother’s Day segment answers that question. Sort of the “anti” holiday gem from the bunch, the segment oozes arthaus realness and Coachella-gone-runway vibes. It’s a visually beautiful 20 mintues, give or take, and the story is probably one you’ve never encountered. The new take on “alternative” medicine is truly cool, especially in the middle of a gorgeous desert. It makes the gracious nudity seem ultra classy and natural. Although it doesn’t scream horror, it earns its spot before the ending.
FATHER’S DAY: Directed by Anthony Scott Burns
Starring the awesome Jocelin Donahue, this entry is by far the eeriest. If you have daddy issues, this one will definitely pull on some heart strings. Donahue is sent a cassette containing a message from her father, whom she was told was deceased, that will lead her to him. Her brief journey is emotional and will set you on edge. However, I’m still a bit foggy about the resolution- feel free to dumb it down for me (plz help thnxx.) It was hard to NOT focus on this segment because it was so enticing.
HALLOWEEN: Directed by Kevin Smith
Obviously expectations would be set high for this fan-favorite holiday and unfortunately, they were not met. Filled with typical Smith humor and raunch/sex/drug references, the Halloween segment touches upon the dirty world of webcamming and the sometimes hard realities of it. A revenge tale, the story doesn’t deliver a big enough climax (pun intended) for the assaulting exposition. There was a lot of potential for a crazy and satisfying ending that just wasn’t fulfilled. However, not all is lost. Certain moments will make you chuckle and hell, who doesn’t love a revenge tale? Even if the revenge isn’t “umped” enough for you, it certainly is enough for the characters in the story and it is enough to give them a happy ending. Awww.
CHRISTMAS: Directed by Scott Stewart
Starring Seth Green, the segment embodies the sad truth about corporate Christmas in a cool, semi-futuristic way. I wouldn’t call it futuristic but it has elements of things our technology hasn’t accomplished yet. Anyways, the segment is funny, sad, and shocking all in one package. It doesn’t bog you down with the usual “Horror Holiday” killer Santa stuff but it does put a drop of Yuletide cheer in your cup. Definitely doesn’t teach you a moral lesson either- for once!
NEW YEAR’S EVE: Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer
Jumping right into the action, this segment starring the wonderful Lorenza Izzo doesn’t involve poisoned champagne or lethal noisemakers. Instead, it revolves around classic murder. You can’t go wrong with killin’ in horror, you just can’t. Despite its sinister appearance, New Year’s Eve makes a turn for the even-worse and leaves you with a nodding head and maybe a shot of surprise. Honestly, the twist wasn’t hard to see, especially since the previous segment touched upon it in a subtle way (let me know if you agree!)
There you have it folks. You’ll notice the anthology left out the most deprived holiday EVER, Thanksgiving. Oh well, I really don’t mind watching Thankskilling every November. Overall, it had a weird, new age artsy feel to it, which isn’t bad if you can embrace something different. It delivered the goods, the real bits of horror, but in new, brighter ways. So what did you think? What was your favorite holiday or which one do you wish they included?