Screener-review: Holidays


USA 2016
Written by Anthony Scott Burns, Matt Johnson, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart & Dennis Widmyer
Directed by Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart & Dennis Widmyer
Watched on 30.03.2016

It seems that, after movies like “Trick R’ Treat”, the “V/H/S”-series, “Tales of Halloween”, “Southbound”, and this, that horror anthologies are back in fashion. “Holidays” consists of eight short films, each and every one of them tackling a different holiday, from Valentine’s Day to New Year’s Eve (no Independence Day, however). As with almost all of these kinds of movies, the individual segments vary in quality; however, overall, I was quite pleased with this most recent entry to this subgenre.

Lets go quickly over the individual stories, without giving too much away. The first entry is “Valentine’s Day” by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. Shot incredibly well, with a couple of beautiful images and a nice atmosphere, it’s a nice, dark little romantic tale of a bullied schoolgirl falling for the one teacher who’s nice to her, and her present for him. A strong and promising first entry to this anthology! Next up was “St. Patrick’s Day” by Gary Shore. Maybe it was because St. Patrick’s Day isn’t really a thing over here in Austria, or maybe the story just didn’t grip me as much, but personally, I wasn’t quite as taken by it. The idea behind it was ok, and the little girl sufficiently creepy, but the ending was rather weird, and overall, I felt that this theme of being pregnant with a spawn from hell has a certain “been there, done that”-feel to it. Overall, though, it was ok. Up next was “Easter” by Nicholas McCarthy, which turned out to be one of my favorite entries to this anthology. I loved the little girl in the beginning, with her questions about the background of said holiday, and how Jesus and the Easter Bunny are related. It’s also one of the creepiest entries in the series, very well shot, with a great performance by said little girl, and a dark, ominous ending. In my book, this short film alone is worth the VOD-price of the movie. Up next is “Mother’s Day” by Sarah Adina Smith, which turned out to be yet another pregnancy-themed short film. The fact that we already had something similar (yet different) with “St. Patrick’s Day” didn’t help, and overall, it was another rather weird entry that I never really connected with. Still, it was alright.

“Father’s Day” was my other favorite of this anthology (next to “Easter”). It has a great score, a nice atmosphere, is built around a great mystery-premise that managed to grip me right away, and offers, in my opinion, the strongest ending of all the stories assembled here. It reminded me very much of “It Follows” (not storywise, but tonally), so much so that I could have sworn that it’s by David Robert Mitchell; instead, it was written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns, who, with this, proves to be another young talent worth looking out for. The next entry, “Halloween”, was put into the experienced hands of Kevin Smith, who offers up his familiar mix of horror, sex and comedy. It’s one of the movie’s lighter entries, which offers a couple of big laughs (and the best use of the tear-laughing emoji ever), and even though it was very silly, I found it quite entertaining. Definitely a lot better than “Tusk”. “Christmas” by Scott Stewart has a nice, strong beginning and an interesting premise that deals with the fact how the internet, due to social media, google searches etc., knows us (and our wants, needs and deeds) better than we might like, but for me, it couldn’t quite shake the problem of “Why doesn’t he just simply stop using this technology?”. Also, it ultimately leads nowhere, and simply stops, instead of offering up a satisfying conclusion. Finally, we get “New Year’s Eve” by “Some Kind of Hate”‘s Adam Egypt Mortimer. Another “romantic” tale, its main problem was that I think that the dangers of online dating have been overdone by now. Also, I would have wished for a different outcome. However, I loved the idea of what it means for a killer to meet his “perfect match”, and it offers a very attractive Lorenza Izzo (which I found a lot more alluring here than I did in “Knock Knock”). It’s not the strongest entry of this anthology, but nevertheless ends it on a satisfying note.

Overall, I’d count “Holidays” among the better entries to the ever-growing list of horror anthology movies. Not every story is equally good, but they are quite varied in content in tone, which means that everyone should be able to find something to like here.


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