REVIEW: Holidays

Other than the overall theme of the movie, there’s no tie that binds the eight stories in Holidays, making it more a collection of short films than an anthology.  It’s more an ABCs of Death than a Trick r’ Treat.  The tone of the tales is consistent (dark and twisted), but the quality of production among them is not, ranging from the beautifully artistic to the crudely graphic.  However, the talent whose tales have been assembled reflects writers and directors who have made a mark in the horror genre, some quite early in their careers.

My favorite segment was made by Anthony Scott Burns, who has not yet directed a feature film, but was a visual effects artist for The Last Exorcism Part II. Father’s Day tells the haunting and emotional story of a woman who receives a cassette tape and player with the voice of the father who left her when she was a child.  As she follows the directions for finding him, her point of view switches between past (child) and present (adult).  By the time she “finds him of her own free will,” a horrifying surprise awaits.


The most repellant segment comes from Kevin Smith (Red State, Tusk) and is probably everything you would expect from him. On Halloween, three women hired to perform on a web cam fight back against the jerk who runs the business.  When they tell him that three women in a room used to be called a coven, he replies by asking which witch is going to ride his broomstick.  Let’s just say that the worst thing they do to him is not inserting a vibrator into his rectum and super gluing his anus, attaching the cord to a car battery.

The two segments that bookend Holidays were written and directed by Kevin Kolsh and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes). The first, Valentine’s Day, is the stylish story of a Carrie-like high school girl who harvests a bloody gift for the swim coach with whom she is smitten.  The second, New Year’s Eve, offers a shocking turn of events for a creep who expresses his hopes for the big night by saying, “Tonight at midnight, I want to kiss someone that will make me think I can take the tape off their lips.”

My least favorite segment was made by Scott Stewart (Legion, Dark Skies) and is the one most like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Normally a good trait to have, in this particular collection it doesn’t make Christmas bad, it just doesn’t have as much impact.  Seth Green stars as a father who will stop at nothing to obtain a UVU virtual reality device for his son.  When it reveals his and his wife’s true thoughts, desires and actions to each other, though, it threatens to tear his family apart.


Three other tales, St. Patrick’s Day (Gary Shore, Dracula Untold), Easter (Nicholas McCarthy, The Pact) and Mother’s Day (Sarah Adina Smith, The Midnight Swim) each have their individual strengths. Easter was most disturbing to me, with unsettling imagery exacerbated by the fact that I actually watched it on Easter.  St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day were quite similar, both dealing with unnatural pregnancies and births.  In fact, if not for Smith’s segment, every other one deals with issues of family, parenting and childhood.

Overall, Holidays is an impressive production, flying under the radar of this year’s horror releases. I enjoyed it more than most anthologies that arrive unannounced, although I’m quite fond of the “themed” collections like The ABCs of Death 1 & 2.  In fact, there could easily be a sequel to this one, which lacks representation for Independence Day and Thanksgiving.  I guess that would make it a distinctly American movie, though, whereas this one casts darkness over holidays that are celebrated worldwide.

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