Let’s throw another egg-nog on the fire!
Year Released : 2015
Directors : Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan
Cast : George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoe De Grand Maison, Amy Forsyth, Adrian Holmes, Olunike Adeliyi, Jeff Clarke, Stephen Kook, Jessica Clement and Percy Hynes-White
Nothing says Christmas like watching a film on October 3rd about a demon who hates the holiday. This is my third addition to my month long goal of writing a horror review every day leading up to Halloween, however, I’ve yet to give the approval stamp, I hope that is about to change.
With a high-anticipated major Hollywood film starring Adam Scott about to be released about the legend of Krampus, I was quite surprised to find another film released in the same year about a subject that I had never heard of before.
For those that don’t know, Krampus is basically the anti-Santa, and this makes for an interesting antagonist as it’s not something that I believe has been majorly tried in films before….I could easily be wrong, but I’ll be honest, I can’t be bothered to look it up.
On Christmas Eve, four groups experience a different set of horrors…
Story 1 : Santa Klaus (Buza) is preparing for the usual Christmas rush when one of his elves becomes seriously ill and dies, even though elves supposedly can’t die. Santa is distraught and confused, although it soon becames a matter of life and death as the elf reanimates as a zombie and starts infecting the others elves. Santa believes that there are darker forces at work and his first choice suspect is Krampus, the Christmas demon, although the true darkness of what is happening is more than he can imagine.
Story 2 : The Bauer family are making a trip to Jeff’s (Clarke) mother’s house to give their well wishes to her. It turns out that they weren’t invited and Jeff soon starts asking her for money. They are thrown out after Duncan (Hynes-Whites) breaks a statue of a demon. As they are driving home, Jeff swerves to avoid something and the family has to trek back to his mother’s house, although they all start getting killed off one by one.
Story 3 : A year ago policeman Scott (Holmes) found a crucified man and a mutilated woman whilst exploring a school and has been in shock since. He decides to take his family to get a Christmas tree from the local forest. His son vanishes before reappearing from a tree. Scott and his wife Kim (Adeliyi) notice that their son’s behaviour is off, and it isn’t long before a phone call reveals all, but by then it’s potentially too late.
Story 4 : A group of kids decide to go into the school that Scott had found the bodies in the previous year and document from within. Whilst there their principle turns out to be still in the building and they hide behind a “staff only” door. Whilst behind there they discover that a woman had claimed to have had an emaculate conception there in the past and died whilst trying to abort it. It’s around this time that Molly (De Grand Maison) starts acting strangely.
The first good addition to the horror review marathon?
Yes, definitely. Christmas Horror Story was a delight, but unusually for me I am going to start this review by talking about the only negative that I found in the entirety of the 100 minute run time, the complete irrelevance of William Shatner’s character.
Shatner plays a radio host that whilst is amusing when he is on screen, has precisely zero relevance to the story with the exception of the most minor of minor payoffs at the very end of the film. His character offers nothing to the film other than comic relief and whilst Shatner did a decent job of making me laugh (kudos to you, Mr Shatner), the fact he is advertised as the main star in the film is laughable given that his total run time in the film is two minutes, if that.
Other than that though, Christmas Horror Story was definitely a surprise in terms of how enjoyable it was. Let’s start with the basics and the fact that it’s completely separate storylines that have minor connections. For example, the kids from the school section of the film are friends with the girl from the travelling family in another, whilst also investigating an incident that links to the other family. Granted, the links aren’t extensive, but they are there, and it makes it seem like one larger story-arc, whereas in reality that isn’t that much connection.
Krampus is also only an antagonist in three of the four stories, but that is a good thing because it makes the scenes with the school kids have a different feel than the rest of the film. I love that not all of the stories has a traditional happy ending either. Infact, I would say that only one of the four (I’m not going to say which) has a happy ending, and that makes such a nice change given it’s very uncommon in a Hollywood film to have antagonists winning, or indeed something much darker with the Santa Klaus arc.
The Santa Klaus story is by far the most interesting given how it ends, and even though the ending isn’t hinted at at all, it’s actually kind of brilliant in many ways because it gives you a great insight into a character. I really wish I could talk about the ending, but I can’t without giving away the entire thing and this film will be getting my approval stamp below so I don’t want to put you off watching it by spoiling the ending.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the best ending that I have ever seen, far from it, but the darkness and morbid nature of the end of the Santa Klaus section, the last of the four stories to end, brings the film to a nice conclusion. You have a bit of everything with each of the stories, and not one of them is a bad end. You feel like you’ve invested in these characters because you get a bit of each of their stories and then you move on to another before returning later.
The film treats it’s audience with respect and not only made me laugh, but on a few occasions did make me jump. The jump scares aren’t your typical jump scares as they’re nowhere to be seen when you’re expecting one, and then they come when you’re nice and relaxed and because of this there are a few moments where you genuinely feel a bit scared, only for a brief second or two, but definitely more scared than I usually get when jumpscares are involved. However, the creepiest moment for me was when the girl who died having an abortion is seen holding her dead baby (picture below), it crept me the hell out.
None of the four stories takes precedence over the others and they all have a similar amount of total run time, this makes your connection with the stories from all four characters even more impressive.
The biggest compliment that I can give the film however is that it feels like it could easily have been a mainstream film. It’s presented in a very professional way and is filmed using mounted cameras, and combine that with the bone chilling soundtrack makes for an impressive level of production.
Even the child actors don’t manage to ruin it!
An excellent small budget horror film that delivers on laughs and scares.
It has production values like a mainstream film and this can make all of the different when taking a low budget/independent film seriously. Although it no doubt has a low budget, hence the lack of any stars, it has made great use of exactly what it does have to use and even though it has a relatively high run time of 100 minutes for a horror film, it’s 100 minutes well spent.