Synopsis: 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, Santa slays evil.
Release Date: October 2, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
A Christmas Horror Story is a quartet of spooky yuletide tales that are all tied together by the soothing voice of DJ Dangerous Dan (the original Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner from “Star Trek”) broadcasting through the airwaves of the town of Bailey Downs on Christmas Eve. In one story, a bunch of kids go snooping around an abandoned school that was the scene of a mass murder years before, and they, of course, find a little more in the basement than they had bargained for. Meanwhile, a family drives out to visit the father’s aunt for Christmas, but the son accidentally touches a statue of Krampus, the anti-Claus, and breaks it, prompting the aunt to throw them out of the house where some.thing.is waiting for them. Another family decides to trespass on private property in order to find the perfect Christmas tree and, in doing so, they lose their son. They find him, but he’s not quite the same as they remember him. And finally, Santa Claus observes his elves acting strangely and determines that it can only mean one thing – Krampus, the vile enemy of Christmas, is coming, and Santa is going to have to fight his mortal enemy in order to save Christmas.
The idea for A Christmas Horror Story was thought up by Ginger Snaps trilogy producer Steven Hoban, who splits directorial duties for the film with fellow Ginger Snaps directors Grant Harvey (Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning) and Brett Sullivan (Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed). Hoban turned to the writing staff of “Darknet,” the techno television clone of “The Twilight Zone,” for his stories, enlisting the help of screenwriters James Kee, Sarah Larson, Pascal Trottier, and Doug Taylor. The idea behind the film is to merge the spirit and vibe of a Christmas movie with the electricity and tension of a horror flick. And it does it. It does it very well.
Technically, A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology movie, because of the four distinct stories. However, it’s much more seamless than, say, something like V/H/S or The Theatre Bizarre in that the stories share characters and a common universe so that, even if the narratives don’t directly intersect, they influence each other greatly. For example, the girl that gives the teens the keys to the crime scene school is the daughter of the family that is driving out to their Aunt’s house. The trespassing father of the lost boy is a cop in the crime scene video of the abandoned school. The Krampus statuette that the boy breaks at the Aunt’s home is an image of the same creature that Santa ends up battling. These common threads combined with the fact that the stories’ narratives are interwoven together instead of separated into chapters gives the movie a feel that is more akin to Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat; a series of stories that are both independent and connected. It also helps with the pacing, as every tale comes to a head at the same time. A Christmas Horror Story is one of the new breed of horror anthologies.
As with any anthology movie, some segments of A Christmas Horror Story are stronger than others. None of the segments are bad, mind you, but the best is the one with the kids breaking into the crime scene, with the Christmas tree trespassing story coming in a close second. But, there’s really something for everyone; where else but A Christmas Horror Story can you see Santa Claus chop through a bunch of zombie elves before engaging in a to-the-death duel with Krampus? Well, maybe you can see it later on this season when Krampus is released, but until then, this will do nicely. And A Christmas Horror Story has something that Krampus does not: the soothing voice of the inimitable William Shatner tying it all together as Dangerous Dan works away his Christmas Eve radio shift.
Score and Soundtrack
The soundtrack to A Christmas Horror Story is, in many ways, exactly what one would expect from a movie that mashes up Halloween and Christmas. The score is credited to Alex Khaskin (who, not surprisingly, did the music to both Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning and “Darknet”), and there is some incidental background music of his, but much of the soundtrack is made up of twistedly spooky renditions of traditional Christmas carols. Classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “Deck the Halls” are given modernized treatments by artists such as The Snots, Country Dance Kings, and Andy Quinn, merging the festive with the creepy. Each of the different stories has its own unique musical style, and the music is all familiar yet inventive. But, most of all, it’s just plain fun.
Of course, because it’s an anthology, the scare factor in A Christmas Horror Story varies with the segment. The scariest is the tale of the kids at the crime scene, as it’s purely paranormal and full of both creepy-crawly stuff and good jump scares. The tree-trespassers has more of an unsettling eeriness to it, more suspense than actual horror, although it does pay off in the most terrifying way in the end. The family visit chapter is all bark and no bite when it comes to scares, and the Santa-versus-Krampus is more kick-ass action than horror, even if Krampus is as horrifying of a monster as one is bound to find. Overall, the scares in A Christmas Horror Story are sporadic, but when they do occur, they’re well worth the wait.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Grant Harvey
- Producer(s): Steven HobanMark Smith
- Screenwriter(s): James KeeSarah LarsenDoug Taylor
- Story: Pascal Trottier
- Cast: George Buza (Santa)Debra McCabe (Marta Claus)Zoé De Grand Maison (Molly Simon) Alex Ozerov (Ben)Shannon Kook (Dylan)Adrian Holmes (Scott)Oluniké Adeliyi (Kim Peters)Percy Hynes-White (Duncan)Corinne Conley (Aunt Edda)Julian Richings (Gerhardt)William Shatner (DJ Dan)Rob Archer (Krampus)
- Editor(s): Brett Sullivan
- Cinematographer: Gavin Smith
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Brenda Broer
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Alex Khaskin
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: Canada