It the season of joy, peace, and goodwillunless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came to a grisly end in a school basement. Now, one year later, a new set of horrors has come to town. As three friends explore the site of the massacre, a malevolent spirit is determined to keep them there forever. One of the first cops to the scene of the bloody murders has new complications as his seven-year-old son exhibits terrifying and violent behavior. And when a local family seeks reconciliation with an estranged aunt for the wrong reasons, they suddenly find themselves running in terror from Krampus, the demonic anti-Santa Claus. Not even St. Nick is immune to the terror as he fights back against a horde of zombie elves. This is destined to be a holiday no one will ever forget
A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY, is a film that is a combination of 5 Horror themed tales told on Christmas Eve, in the town of Bailey Downs. Although on the outside it appears to be a quiet, and sleepy town, as it turns out, Bailey Downs can't catch a break(It was also the town used in GINGER SNAPS). It appears that this Christmas is no different. First, terror returns to school, when a group of friends get trapped within a High School at night, only to be possessed and terrorized by a vengeful spirit. In this story, Molly and her pals Dylan and Ben, have broken into St. Joseph's Academy, the sight of a tragedy one year prior. Last year, the town was shaken up, when the bodies of 2 St. Joseph students(a male and female) were found mutilated. Molly, and her friends, as media arts students, have made their way into the school to investigate where the murders took place. But of course, it doesn't end well, when the spirit of a dead teenage girl, enters Molly's body. Meanwhile, in another story, Scott, one of the Police officers who discovered the victims at St. Joesph's one year ago, is still dealing with emotional trauma. So, to try and put it behind him, he goes with his wife, and young son named Will, on a hunt for the perfect Christmas Tree. Unfortunately, the way they choose to go about it, isn't exactly the most ideal. They actually trespass unto private land to do so. So it's no surprise when things go bad. They return home with the tree, but it is soon apparent that Will is not the same - in fact, he has a ravenous appetite. A third story deals with a family, who have fallen on hard times. The patriarch of the family, Taylor, hopes to reconcile his differences with his wealthy Aunt Edda, thus getting the piece of the pie. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned, which soon sees them leaving the Aunt's place. Unfortunately, that's not all, as soon, they find themselves preyed upon by a German Christmas demon called "Krampus", who makes his presences felt on Christmas Eve, to punish the naughty. The fourth story deals with old St. Nick himself, as he is faced with two scenarios that he likely would not have imagined. First, when his faithful elves coming down with a zombifying virus, he must fight them off. And in the end, before taking to the sky for his Christmas deliveries with his trusty reindeer, he too comes face to face with the aforementioned Krampus. The last tale, is also the segment that serves as a wraparound for this anthology. It is one which involves a poplar radio DJ who calls himself "Dangerous Dan", as well as some trouble that one of his co-workers finds himself in trouble on the day before Christmas.
When one thinks of Horror anthologies, they are quick to associate them with one holiday. That would of course be Halloween. However, this year brings something different to Horror, as this film makes the holiday of Christmas, its cinematic centerpiece. And not unlike Halloween, it would seem that Christmas is as suitable a Horror holiday as any. A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY, presents 4 different segments, which are held together by one wraparound story, that of course, not only begins and ends the film, it also has a tie in, in between. This year, for Halloween, we had already got the fantastic Horror anthology, TALES OF HALLOWEEN. If you read my review for that one, then you know just how much I enjoyed it. However, the marketing behind this film, A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY saw fit to release the film around the same time via digital(it is now available also on Blu-Ray and DVD). So, as I came off of TALES OF HALLOWEEN, I was already hearing about these films being compared, and it seems that opinions differ. Some prefer TALES OF HALLOWEEN, while others believe that A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is better. What do I think? Personally, I still have to go with TALES OF HALLOWEEN, overall.
I say "overall", because although A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is indeed some fun, combined, each of the film's 5 tales don't exactly complement each other. To me, the film's flow was a little all over the place. Because one story doesn't end, before another begins, the stories intersect one another, toggling from one story to the next. It seems that just when a story is getting good, it abruptly cuts to another, before, minutes later, once doing it again. At first, it's ok to handle, but after awhile, the stories just seem to run together. And it doesn't exactly help matters that the effectiveness of the stories vary. Some are better than others. It really does suck at the times that you're enjoying yourself, only to have the film alternate to a less interesting story. Personally, I felt that the most uninteresting of the round of stories presented here were the High School possession story, as well as the one that involves the traumatized cop, whose son's body is switched with that of a changeling(shape-shifting demon, able to take the human form). The tale involving the family with the wealthy German Aunt, is ok. Fortunately, the story is saved by A cool looking Krampus. According to folklore, Krampus is a demon, who goes alongside Santa Claus on the Eve of Christmas, and proceeds to "punish" those who have been bad. In this tale, the families sins, including greed, are revealed, only to bring about Krampus. This year, due to the release of Director Michael Dougherty's(TRICK 'R TREAT) Krampus film of the same name, it seems as if the mythical creature is a popular one. It's no different here, as the goat-like creature makes an appearance, in not one, but two of the film's 5 tales. But perhaps my favorite tale, is of course the one involving Santa himself, as he find himself fending off his elves, as they are stricken with a zombie virus, that makes them agitated and mean. It's both funny, and packed with nice looking special effects and action. It's a tale that ends with the showdown which is depicted on the film's poster and box art. This tale, which happens to be the last individualized tale, dissolves into the film's wraparound, which stars William Shatner as DJ "Dangerous Dan". the wraparound offers up a nice twist, that you just might not see coming.
Overall, A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is a somewhat fun film, with above average acting, as well as effects. But as a whole, it is fairly uneven. When a viewer goes into this film, i'd say that, for most, it is almost certain that they will only like one, or maybe two of the selected tales, as the film itself never has that cohesive flow.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said, A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is somewhat fun, however, it's in spurts, due to a rather uneven flow between stories. Just when you start to get into the whole thing, it alternates to another story, and then back again. The stories never truly have time to reach their peak on an individual level. What's left are a few good moments, along with others that are less effective. With that in mind, A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY is still an "ok" seasonal watch.