A Christmas Horror Story full movie review - A bloody, twisted & fun anthology for horror fans!
In the fictional town of Bailey Downs, radio show host Dangerous Dan (a fun turn by the always entertaining WILLIAM SHATNER) intends to get stinking drunk as he holds a broadc
ast on Christmas Eve, while Dan maybe enjoying himself this evening, the rest of the town is not exactly having having a "White Christmas" despite the plentiful snowfall, but more along the lines of a true "Black Christmas": Jolly old St. Nick himself spends most of his Christmas Eve cooped up in his Christmas workshop, fending off swarms of foul mouthed, nasty tempered, flesh craving zombie Elves who got infected by a diseased Elf's blood, after goes into shock when he accidentally cuts into his hand half off with a hatchet, meanwhile three teens sneak into their high school named St. Joseph's Academy with a video camera to document the heinous murders of two former classmates, only to get locked in with an evil demonic entity that roams the halls at night & which has some very horrible plans for these interlopers. A snobbish, rich family (one of which is the girlfriend of one of the teens who snuck into the academy) visits the husbands ailing aunt at her mansion, only to get booted out when the son intentionally breaks an ornament of the demon Krampus, on the road back they wind up being stranded on the side of the road after they crash their car, taking to the woods in order to head back to the mansion, they discover that the demon Krampus is hunting them all. Meanwhile police officer Scott Peters who was investigating the heinous crimes at St. Joseph's academy the year prior, takes his wife & son on a hunt through the woods to find the perfect family Christmas tree, ignoring a "No Trespassing" sign posted on a fence, they take a tree of this private property, however on their way back to the car, their son gets lost, but thankfully is found again a few minutes later, however once back home, they find their son acting very odd & the wife soon discovers that her son may not be her real son at all, but rather a sadistic changeling taking his spot.
A Christmas Horror Story is a fun little horror anthology, that I admit I wasn't to struck on when it first started, but as it kept going on I found myself immensely enjoying it. It's pretty zany stuff featuring tons of blood & guts, weirdness, zombie elves, an evil spirit run amok, the Christmas demon Krampus & sadistic changeling's all set against the back drop of a snowy Christmas eve setting. Each tale has something going for it that I found enjoyable, the tale featuring three reckless teens breaking into their school only to wind up getting trapped inside, is just filled with atmosphere & dark corridors & enough weirdness to keep even the most jaded horror fan glued to it's story, while the Changeling episode, where the couple discovers their son may no longer be their real son definitely has a few moments of sadism & requisite gore & enough interest to keep it's viewer hooked as they are curious as to how this will all play out. The tale featuring a family stalked by Krampus is just full of atmosphere, but really feels underwritten for some reason, it's definitely the shortest of the tales & seems to struggle to find something to do, but still a watchable entry. The only one that seems out of place here (& not set in the town of Bailey Downs) is the zombie elf tale which is a radical departure in tone from the other three tales, it's a one note joke premise that definitely feels padded out to the max, it's a tale that is far to silly & surprisingly wears out it's welcome rather quickly, as it merely exists as a series of scenes with Santa hacking his Elves apart, while Shatner's scenes which serves as the wrap around seems to have no connection with everything that is going on, only to reveal in a very interesting twist ending, that all the tales do connect with each other in a very interesting way, each tale has a really good twist ending to all of them, with my favourite being the Santa Claus tale having the best, most unique & interesting twist that finally connects to the other tales. The film is very well acted, well paced & very well directed & the special effects & gory dispatches are great.
On the downside of things, A Christmas Horror Story does have a few problems, the tales are all told simultaneously with each other (ala TRICK R' TREAT) & not in separate segments like most horror anthologies, while this is a unique approach to the format, I felt this brought the films enjoyment levels down a bit. Simply because when one is just starting to get into the story being told, the film then shifts over to another story & then back again between each tale, which I felt robbed the stories from their impact that they could have had, had they been told sequentially apart from each other. What's noted is how each film is connected to a Christmas theme, with the exception of the tale which sees three teens breaking into an academy it's the only one that doesn't have a Christmas theme attached to it & could have taken place on any day of the year & it wouldn't have made a difference. The film is directed by BRETT SULLIVAN, GRANT HARVEY & STEVE HOBAN & yet the end credits never do tell us who directed what episodes.
All in all, A Christmas Horror Story would make for a perfect double bill alongside TRICK R' TREAT. One thing is for sure, you won't be nodding off during this movie!