I consider myself to be something of a horror anthology aficionado. I can’t think of one I haven’t seen and, because I love the format, I’m always excited when something new comes out. In order for an anthology to be successful, the stories must be engaging and the tie that binds them together should make it a cohesive narrative. There are several anthologies that revolve around a particular holiday, but how no one had thought to do one involving ALL the holidays before is sort of astounding. This film celebrates the year in a wonderfully macabre way.
Valentine’s Day – Written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch
Everyone has crushed on a teacher at one time or another, but how far would you go to make them notice you? The duo who brought us Starry Eyes solidly explores this scenario with awkward Maxine, who has an obvious affection for her swim coach. Tormented by her classmates, a la Carrie (complete with a wardrobe nod to P.J. Soles’ Norma), Maxine simply wants to give the coach her heart… or someone else’s. Starring: Madeleine Coghlan and Savannah Kennick
St. Patrick’s Day – Written and directed by Gary Shore
Pagan fertility rituals, snakes, and ginger kids make up this March madness. One of the creepiest little girls Ireland has ever produced (I’m sure she’s a doll in real life) wants to grant her teacher her heart’s desire and neither are disappointed. This could have been a super creepy segment, but unfortunately it went for the humor angle and failed in its efforts. Starring: Isolt McCaffrey and Ruth Bradley
Easter - Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy
A holiday that combines religion and fluffy bunnies shouldn’t be terrifying, but it is. A young girl discovers just how much when she sneaks a peak at who is leaving her Easter treats. This is full-on horror with a creature that is easily one of the most unique and disturbing creations on screen in a long time. Starring: Ava Acres
Mother’s Day - Written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith
Fertility issues are a common issue among women, but not for Kate. She has the opposite problem, getting pregnant every time she has sex. Not wanting a baby, she has terminated every pregnancy. With no help from the medical community, she seeks help at a fertility clinic in the desert. Although the motives of this coven are unclear, they are sinister. It’s one of the most beautifully shot segments, but the ending is abrupt and a tad confusing. Starring: Sophie Traub
Father’s Day - Written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns
The loss of a parent is never easy and it makes getting through the holidays even tougher. When Carol receives a mysterious package containing an old tape recorder from her father, whom she thought was dead, the hope of reuniting brings her to an abandoned seaside town. There she lets her father’s voice guide her to him. The steady, soothing voice over the white noise of the tape sets up a foreboding tone and an increasing tension that never lets up. The ending is a bit disappointing, but it’s a solid effort overall. Starring: Jocelin Donahue and Michael Gross
Halloween - Written and directed by Kevin Smith
With what is clearly the most common holiday to cover in any horror film, Kevin Smith somehow managed to make the worst of the lot with a sexist and vulgar vignette that has nothing at all to do with Halloween. I’ll say no more about this one.
Christmas - Written and directed by Scott Stewart
Christmas always brings a new toy or gadget that is nearly impossible for parents to get their hands on. Pete Gunderson nabs a virtual reality device through rather nefarious means. His son is thrilled with the gift, but what it shows Pete is a little too real. This plays very much like a Tales from the Crypt episode, with a superb little twist at the end. Starring: Seth Greene and Clare Grant
New Year – Written by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch, Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer
We end with the strongest and most organic story, where horror and humor are blended perfectly. If you were already hesitant to participate in online dating, this segment will stop you cold. Two lonely hearts meet up after connecting online and commiserate over their lack of luck in love. What transpires is delightfully twisted and bloody. Starring: Lorenza Izzo and Andrew Bowen
Holidays doesn’t have a wraparound story, save the calendar and the beautifully designed evil greeting cards that end the segments, but in this case, nothing else is really necessary. There is a strong female focus in all the segments, which is refreshing, especially since all but one of the writers/directors are male. While some of the stories have some problems and the Halloween segment is an abomination, overall, it’s one of the best anthologies produced in years.
You can see Holidays on VOD and limited theatrical release.
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