I happily jump at the chance to check out a new horror anthology. Growing up, they were always my favorites, going back to the days of Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside. So when I heard about this fairly new release hitting Shudder, I knew I had to check it out. Plus it was a Christmas anthology! The promotional poster was really cool with remnants of Critters and Gremlins featuring a creature hatching out of a tree ornament, and the cast had some familiar faces I was pumped to check out (including Constance Wu & Jocelin Donahue).
A critic whose name slips my mind had once said that an anthology horror film is only as good as its weakest act. Unfortunately for this film, there are no strong acts except for arguably the opening. There are 5 excerpts for us to check out. In order they are: The Stockings Were Hung, Dash Away All, All Through The House, Arose Such A Clatter, and In A Twinkling. The first story being centered around an office Christmas party that is devised by a vengeful co-worker, the second being about a man who needs help from two strangers after locking himself out of his car, the 3rd is a reimagining of A Christmas Carol but without the charm, the 4th is a man being hunted by Rudolph, and the last is a tale of a small Christmas Party that is crashed by aliens. There is a wrap-around story involving an awkward man seeing a play with one of his old friends, but there is no real point or resolution to this story. It serves as a conduit for why we are watching the other stories, as they are chapters in this play they see.
The film tries to be funny but fails. The scares are mostly a series of build ups with very little-to-no payouts in their outcomes. The stories are mildly interesting and decently well-acted, but my main problem with this film is the direction. The directors seemed uninspired, as if they slapped this together just for the sake of getting it out there. None of the characters are fleshed out (granted they aren’t on screen long enough to get a chance), and their situations aren’t that scary. I was also disappointed that the poster art has nothing to do with any of the stories. Even the seasoned acting of Constance Wu and Jocelin Donahue could only benefit their segments so much.
In a world of holiday horror films, and anthology horror films, you can honestly do worse (this certainly beats Creepshow III…). But this is not a good investment of your time. I saw it streaming for free on Shudder so luckily I didn’t lose much besides my time, but I would recommend you find something else to occupy your evening.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra