Written by: Daniel Hadley
Directed by: Anthony Scott burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Ellen Reid, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer
Cast: Harley Quinn Smith, Lorenzo Izzo, Seth Green, Micheal Gross
Anthology films are always enjoyable, even if they tend to be a mixed bag. There are always a couple of standouts and there are always a couple that don’t quite hold up, so for Holidays I’ll go through each of the short films contained within and hopefully you’ll be able to decide whether or not Holidays is worth your time.
Each of the short films are centered around a holiday, as the film’s title would suggest, and it is interesting to see how each of these filmmakers turn these holidays inside out and give them a horrific twist – in some cases with some truly sinister results.
So for starters we have Valentine’s Day directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer and I wish I could say we start out on a strong note, but Valentine’s Day is fairly average. The story centers around a social outcast who wishes to give her gym teacher a special treat for valentines on account of his failing heart. The short is very well-shot and I did enjoy it over all, but it doesn’t stand out above the other films in this collection, so it’s left teetering on the edge of average, leaning more towards good than bad.
Next we have St Patrick’s Day, directed by Gary Shore, which tells the tale of an elementary school teacher in Ireland who falls victim to a creepy little girl who grants her the wish of a child. But in typical horror fashion the baby is not quite what she had wished for, and while the film boasts some interesting visuals, it’s again, not the strongest of the bunch. But with its strange tale it does hold your attention.
Moving on to Easter, directed by Nicholas McCarthy. It’s here we start to see something truly nightmarish; after a young girl wakes up in the middle of the night on the eve of Easter she encounters the Easter Bunny… well, Nicholas McCarthy’s interpretation of the Easter Bunny. This incarnation of our furry little friend is something truly horrifying to behold. I won’t say anymore as this is possibly the shortest film of the bunch and to say any more would give away too much. And this is most definitely amongst the cream of the crop.
Then we have Mother’s Day, Directed By Sarah Adina Smith. Here we have another story that I couldn’t quite get into. The tale follows a young woman who is so fertile that even when making her partners wear three condoms she can’t help but get pregnant. In an act of desperation she travels to a sanctuary out in the desert in hopes of solving what she sees as a crippling disability, but what the women of the sanctuary see as so much more. While I liked the idea, the film’s short length is a huge detriment. A story like this really needed a longer runtime to flesh out its ideas. It’s still an interesting short none the less, and it’s by no means bad. It also has what is probably the most memorable ending out of the lot.
Following Mother’s Day, we move straight onto Father’s Day and we have another gem. Directed by Anthony Scott Burns, this is easily the most beautiful looking film of the collection. It follows a young school teacher who receives a cassette tape from her father who disappeared when she was a child. The cassette provides instruction on how to find him. The cinematography at work here is truly stunning as the camera follows this young woman in her search. The cassette is especially effective, as when it was recorded the young woman was there with her father as a little girl, and I found it truly heart breaking listening to this young naïve girl innocently following her father along as he relays instruction to her future self, not understanding that he is about to leave her behind. Obviously this being a horror piece, the road she follows leads her to some dark places; this is definitely – in my eyes – the best of the bunch, and it’s worth seeking out on its own.
Next is the most surprising: Halloween, Directed by Kevin Smith. This is easily one of the tamest films here and I couldn’t understand why. Horror and Halloween go hand in hand, but on offer here is a simple tale of revenge. On Halloween three cam girls exact revenge on their abusive boss. Now don’t let my above statement fool you into thinking that this is bad. It’s not. It’s actually pretty funny and I enjoyed it overall, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed as the theme of this short could have been used to much greater effect. The story itself doesn’t even hold any connection to the holiday, other than that it happens to take place on Halloween night. But like I said, it’s pretty funny and I enjoyed it over all.
From Halloween straight on to Christmas, directed by Scott Stewart, and this one too is also pretty funny. The story follows a father who goes to any means necessary to get his son the gift of the hottest new virtual reality goggles. Like Halloween, it’s pretty funny, and is another nice addition to the package. Although it’s not a standout, it fits in nicely with the other films on the list.
And finally we have New Year’s Eve, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer, and in this we have another gem. A serial killer trawls dating websites in hopes of finding his next victim. After a fairly awkward date the pair end the night back at her place and it’s here we have a very entertaining showdown between two deeply disturbed individuals. It’s very entertaining to watch. And I should make note of the gore effects which are truly wince inducing at times. It’s a really strong entry to finish up on and definitely among the best of the whole collection.
Overall I really enjoyed the time I spent watching Holidays and amongst the recent resurgence of horror anthology movies, Holidays has the horror chops to stand with best of them. While some of the films contained in this little package aren’t quite as strong as others they have merit in their own right, with Easter, Father’s Day and New Year’s Eve standing out as some of the very best horror shorts around.