A Christmas Horror Story
a christmas horror story | grant harvey | steven hoban | brett sullivan | james kee | sarah larsen | doug taylor | pascal trottier | william shatner | george buza | rob archer | anthology | christmas | krampus | fantasy | mystery | thriller | canada | zoe de grand maison
Film: A Christmas Horror Story
Director: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan
Writer: James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor and Pascal Trottier
Starring: William Shatner, George Buza and Rob Archer
This was a film that I had heard about on some podcasts that I listen to, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing it yet. I finally decided to check it out as a round-up in December of Christmas horror films. The official synopsis is 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 and Santa slays evil.
As the synopsis alludes to, this is an anthology horror film. I don’t believe that Dangerous Dan (William Shatner) tells the tales, but we do keep going back to him. Our film does kick off showing us a city that looks futuristic. It is Christmas Eve and we go into a stable. Santa (George Buza) is talking to his reindeer when something enters behind him.
We go 12 hours in the past and that’s when we are introduced to Dangerous Dan. He loves the holiday, but those around him don’t. This story is introduces an important food drive at the mall that turns into a deadly hostage situation. The reveal of this though is quite interesting and the local weather man isn’t heard from.
Another of the stories involves a group of college students. Molly (Zoé De Grand Maison), Ben (Alex Ozero) and Dylan (Shannon Kook) have plans to break into a school building in order to film a documentary video for class about a double murder that happened in the basement. A horrible secret is harbored down there back from this school was a convent. The spirits may still be around.
A set of keys were given to the previous group by Caprice Bauer (Amy Forsyth). Her grandfather is Dangerous Dan and with her family they are going to see her crazy aunt. With her is her father, Taylor (Jeff Clarke), mother Diane (Michelle Nolden) and brother Duncan (Percy Hynes White). They are going to visit their Aunt Edda (Corinne Conle). She sends them away after Duncan breaks a figurine of Krampus. They are attacked by something on their way home.
This family passes another on their way. This one has Scott (Adrian Holmes) and his wife Kim (Olunike Adeliyi) as well as their son Will (Orion John). They are trespassing to cut down a Christmas tree. Their son goes missing though. They end up finding him inside of a tree. The problem is the boy doesn’t quite seem himself. He might actually be something as well.
The final story that is a part of all of this is Santa preparing to deliver all of the toys. The problem though is that one of his elves is infected with something. It dies, which they never do. They come back as zombies and Santa has to do what he can to stop them. Is this what is really happening though?
The first thing I really want to cover in this review would be how the stories are connected. I’m actually a big fan that they are. I’ve already revealed some of the connections, but there are more. Like the Santa story is connected to the Dangerous Dan story. Also Scott is a police officer who is on leave currently. He was investigating what happened in the school, which explains why Kim is concerned when his temper gets out of control. As someone who loves the story of films, I loved incorporating that.
Despite the connection, I didn’t love all of the stories for different reasons. The Dangerous Dan one I could have done without until the ending when it makes sense. There isn’t a lot of depth to it, aside from a drunk Shatner. The one taking place in the school is alright. It had some creepy elements to it, but it again doesn’t add a whole lot to the overall feeling as Christmas. The Krampus one was good, except I don’t like the truth behind the creature. I had some other issues with that one though. I did like the Christmas Tree story and to what happens with Will. The Santa one was a bit cheesy, but the ending of that one was good to tie it back.
An issue I had with the film overall was how it was edited. I do think that they film is paced well. A low running time helps as it keeps it going and builds tension. What I didn’t like though was how they present the stories. We are given the set up of each one and then we jump between them. I personally think that presenting them this way actually took me out of it, because I needed to make sure I knew what the last thing we saw with. I definitely would have preferred to see this arranged more like Trick ‘r Treat. I did like how this film ended though for sure.
Acting for this I thought was a bit lacking as well. Shatner unfortunately seemed like he was just there for a payday. I didn’t think he was horrible, but he seems like he was just there to have fun. Buza I thought was fine as Santa. His character brings an interesting take on it for sure. Rob Archer portrays Krampus. He fit for the role just fine. Maison was cute. Her motivations I do find to be a bit convoluted. Especially since I think it would actually get her in trouble. The two guys with her help to round out that group. I thought Forsyth and her family were just decent. I did like the reveal as to why Krampus is after them. The acting for the Christmas Tree one I thought was good as well. It was interesting to not have John talk. The reveal makes so much sense as to why.
The effects for this film are something that I was down on. They used a lot of CGI and I wasn’t a fan. I was annoyed in the beginning when they showed Santa’s city. It was all done with CGI. I do forgive this a bit at the end though when it is revealed. Any time someone is attacked, the blood is CGI and I hated it. There are times that we see someone already killed and the blood looked good there. I do think some of this could have been done practically and it would have been better. The film though was shot well, I will give it that.
Score for the film really didn’t stand out to me. I thought it was fitting for the scenes, so it never took me out of anything. I really wanted to comment I do love the Christmas song that kicks off and ends the film. I know that it isn’t really horror, but the choir way it sung in this just gives me an uneasy feeling. I definitely liked that aspect for sure.
Now with that said, this film does do some good things with the story. I do like the stories for the most part and it really embodies the Christmas spirit for the most part. I didn’t like the editing though with how the stories are told. The film itself does move at a good rate and kept me interested. The ending was solid as well. Acting for the film I would say was decent overall. The CGI in the film wasn’t good. The practical effects used were fine though; there just weren’t enough of them. Overall I’d say that this film was above average. If you are looking for a film to get into the holiday spirit, this one is pretty fun I’d say.
My Rating: 6 out of 10