The two holidays I love the most, also happen to have the most films at their disposal: Halloween and Christmas. And as much as I love both of them, I may love holiday horror films even more. There’s just something cathartic about watching something so sacred get torn to shreds for the sake of a laugh or scare. While ranging in quality to severe degrees, I’ll watch pretty much anything with a good holiday twist to it. Black Christmas/X-mas, Silent Night Deadly Night, Rare Exports, Gremlins, Jack Frost, and Santa’s Slay, there’s something for everyone under the tree. So, how does the new anthology, A Christmas Horror Story, stack up? Unfortunately, it doesn’t all gel the way you’d hope, but there is a great twist at the end that almost more than makes up for it.
Three tales come together on Christmas Eve in the fictional town of Bailey Downs where radio DJ Dangerous Dan (William Shatner) is keeping everyone in the spirit of the season, while a trio of groups are about to cross paths with some demented mythology. Video journalists Molly (Zoé De Grand Maison), Ben (Alex Ozerov), and Dylan (Shannon Kook) are investigating the deaths of two students who are about to find out that there may be more to the Virgin Mary than they ever imagined. Dysfunctional family Scott (Adrian Holmes), Kim (Oluniké Adeliyi), and young Will (Orion John) get up close and personal with the effects of a changeling. Caprice (Amy Forsyth), her parents Taylor (Jeff Clarke) and Diane (Michelle Nolden), and brother Duncan (Percy Hynes White) get to find out why Aunt Edda (Corinne Conley) keeps a Krampus figurine laying around. Meanwhile, up at the North Pole, Santa (George Buza) discovers that Krampus (Rob Archer) may have been released after his elves wind up turning into zombies.
Image Entertainment unleashes these sordid Christmas tales to stunning life, proving yet again that sometimes you can’t keep a 25GB disc down. Detail never falters, whether out in the woods, or in the basement of a creepy old school. Shadows never result in crush, and there is surprisingly never any banding. Colors pop, which only exacerbates the punches of red whenever blood starts flying, and the bright greens and reds never result in bleeding. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track also gets a lot of mileage, with plenty of deep, rumbling bass, and a lot of surround effects. This is a horror after all, and there’s plenty of carnage to assault the viewer from every speaker. The festive score and dialogue are never lost in the chaos. English SDH subtitles are on hand for those in need.
The special features are as sparse as can be, but at least we aren’t left with a lump of coal in our stocking. Featuring pre-menu trailers for Odd Thomas and Wolf Cop, the lone extra is a “Behind the Scenes” (14:45) featurette letting the cast and crew provide insight as to who directed which segment, and where their inspirations stem from. However, it wasn’t pleasing hearing them say how Creepshow was a huge inspiration, only to turn around and say how “corny” they think it is now. That anthology is a true horror classic, and I have to say now, that I will probably never watch A Christmas Horror Story again. As much fun as it may be seeing elves die in extreme fashion, there’s just not enough to make this an annual favorite. It works in spurts, but never comes together in a satisfying whole, but there is at least enough good to make inquiring minds get their money’s worth. Anyone making a blind purchase may find themselves in the mood for re-gifting.