“Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.” — IMDb
A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology with four short films that, rather than playing in succession, weave together, one chunk cutting into the next, which, in my opinion, really dulled some already dull stories, especially considering they were written and directed by different people.
They did make an effort to connect all four of the unique stories. They all take place on Christmas Eve in the fictional town of Bailey Downs, and you see little ways in which the characters are more personally connected as the movie plays on. They also cut occasionally to the town’s radio DJ, Dangerous Dan (played by William Shatner, of all people), who tries to keep everyone in the Christmas spirit as he slowly succumbs to downing shot after shot of boozy egg nog.
The first story has a family trespassing on a private orchard to bring home a Christmas tree — an odd choice, I thought, since they make a point to have the husband be one of the town’s police officers. They lose the woman’s son and go on a mad search for him before finding what they think is him and returning home. Turns out it’s actually a changeling version of him, and he wreaks some serious havoc before the wife brings him back to the orchard in exchange for her real, non-evil son. This one really did nothing for me, except being super bummed when she instinctually shoots the owner of the orchard who was trying to help.
The second follows a group of high school kids as they investigate the grisly murders of two classmates that took place the previous year. This somehow manages to pack every tired horror cliche into one go, and while it tries to set up some good jump scares with a bit of supernatural aspects, it really fell flat — probably the weakest of the bunch for me.
The third is a dysfunctional family who go on a trip to surprise a distant, elderly aunt (to her dismay). They learn of Krampus while muddling through the awkward trip and shortly after he hunts them through the woods. I liked the character of Krampus and he was decently scary but the special effects were mediocre at best and you really felt no connection whatsoever to the characters.
The fourth has Santa battling elves at his workshop after they, and his wife, have all succumbed to a zombie virus. Now THIS — I would have watched an entire movie of just this. Santa (played by George Buza) was awesome, and the gore was fantastic. It was goofy and funny and filled with great action scenes and creative, clever kills. I mean, just watching a bloody Santa going on a rampage with his bloody staff in hand and killing one elf by throwing another elf’s head at him like a bowling ball… great stuff. It didn’t have a whole lot of plot or character development but it didn’t need it. It wraps up with Santa ultimately battling Krampus, which I wish would have gone on FAR longer before the surprise ending (which I admit was pretty clever).
All in all, I wanted better. Bring me more bloody Santa!
Rating: 2/10 | Director: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan | Writer: James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor, Pascal Trottier | Music: Alex Khaskin | Starring: A.C. Peterson, Percy Hynes White, Corinne Conley, Julian Richings, Oluniké Adeliyi, Orion John, William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoé De Grand Maison, Alex Ozerov, Shannon Kook, Amy Forsyth, Jeff Clarke, Michelle Nolden, Adrian Holmes