“On the last day of Christmas (yes I know it’s the 29th),
Your Screen Squinty gave to thee…”
A Christmas Horror Story.
Well, for those of you who haven’t heard of it before, A Christmas Horror Story; is a Canadian 2015 horror film directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett Sullivan that is a loosely connected set of stories of various residents of the town of Baily Downs and there horror stories during the holidays: Santa is beset by zombie elves, a family invokes the wrath of Krampus, a group of teenagers get locked in the basement, and scene of a previous murder, beneath there school, and a troubled couple and their son should have paid attention to the no trespassing sign and gotten a plastic tree instead. All the while William Shatner is manning the radio station with Christmas carols and egg nog to spare.
This Frankenstein amalgam is a beast of the bits of good, the “meh,” and the bad sandwiched between a great opening and ending. To deconstruct this holiday horror hoagie, I will break down the various fillings and see if this film is worth taking a bite into.
First off, the good.
The opening of the film was actually really intriguing. It opened with this great little mildly creepy opening score that was surprisingly well composed and moderately epical. The opening scene of a Santa (George Buza) in the reindeer stable turning around and facing the stable doors, covered in wounds, before it flashes onto 12 hours before hand, was actually a very attention grabbing scene. It makes you want to find out what the hell happened to Santa, and what lay beyond that door, and when the ending came, it tied it neatly into into the opening in a way that saved a really cheesy middle ground of the Santa’s arc, and made one go “Well…that part was actually good after all.”
The cinematography was also pretty good, and the mise-en-scene of each scene was well presented for each scene, with a particular nod to Santa’s North Pole, and its creepy nativity scene props in the school arc, and of course, the appropriate amount of elf gore.
The best of the arcs perhaps would have to be the Santa arc. Granted it had its faults, but it was fun in the sheer fact of seeing Santa Buza brutally smashing up undead elf skulls, and the great little twist in the closer as I said really saved it.
The “meh” parts are rather profuse throughout the film: Krampus was okay, but nothing to write home about, and rather underwhelming overall for that story arc, though the fate of teenager was not too bad.
In the basement arc meanwhile, there was some decent build of tension in one scene, and the great use of those nativity props out of focus and in shadow really heightened the tension, though the rest of the story was a bit half-assed, and you’re not surprised or overly interested at all by what is happening to them either.
Now for the bad.
This film, while maintaining separate story arcs only vaguely connected by the setting and some relationships between characters which was more plot convenience, could have benefited by an overarching element that would have really tied them all together, which this film actually did have on hand in the reveal of Buza’s character. All these separate arcs with some different endings using Santa as the over-arching element, and this would have been a really good film, but nope, they went with going for to many different fillings, spilling all over the place.
The characters were also not overly fleshed out enough, and plot elements were introduced suddenly and without proper believably, and an element like the Krampus, in two of the arcs makes no sense unless Santa was in both of them.
The most useless of the arcs was the Christmas tree one. underwhelming, and felt put in there to fill up time better utilized elsewhere. it was beyond half-assed, and more negative zero-assed that was uncomfortable, characters out of nowhere, and not necessary. even the acting was somewhat awkward.
Overall, this is not a necessarily bad film, just a mildly entertaining film with zombie elves, that had a great beginning, a great ending, but the filler in between leaves you mildly confused, bored and frustrated, particularly as there was potential here to have brought this into the, perhaps not fantastic, but at least good film category, which sadly this falls short of, Santa Buza or no Santa Buza.
Film Trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z3ybMTpqFw