I often find it difficult to review anthology films like Holidays, which is basically eight short horror stories inspired by eight holidays starting from Valentines’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas and New Year.
This is mainly because shorts aren’t always the best medium to deal with horror as it usually requires some time to set up and execute, all of which are made more complicated by having to ‘compete’ with other works in a space an hour and 44 minutes.
While I could not dismiss any of the works in this film as bad, I must say that there were those that left me clueless as to what just happened.
I was unsure of what to make of Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer’s Valentines’ Day feature which was a cliche from beginning up to the end. Yes, including the creepy bullied girl who has just about had enough of the abuse.
Gary Shore’s St. Patrick Day featurette, on the other hand, was so surreal and managed to sabotage itself and its ominous set up with its ending because the twist was so ridiculous.
Nicholas McCarthy’s Easter had some potential. It was weird, true, but there was an effort to gross out the audience with the alternative view of the lovable Easter Bunny. Does it make sense? Well, that’s another issue to deal with for another day.
Mother’s Day by Sarah Adina Smith, had some nice elements to it. A woman who gets pregnant every time she has sex is referred by her doctor to a coven for barren witches who eventually drug her and keep her until its time to give birth. There were a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of this short (thus reinforcing my earlier statement).
Anthony Scott Burns’ Fathers’ Day was one of the best entries for me. It was able to plan out its story well. A daughter abandoned by her father is guided by an old voice tape made by her dad to lead her to him years after they have become separated. I liked the tie in between the past and the present and the old school/sci fi approach of this short. The ending was ambigous but it still made sense.
The shorts that followed for Halloween, Christmas and New Years’ Eve were all good.
Kevin Smith wrote and directed his short for Halloween which took on a fun approach on a bunch of young girls forced into the internet sex trade by a douchebag porn producer who gets his comeupppance in the end. It mostly banked on the stereoptypes but I got a kick out of each smiley at the end of each iMessage that the girls sent to Ian. Smith also cast his own daughter Harley Quinn Smith in the short.
Seth Green stars in Scott Stewart’s Christmas short and plays the role of a nice guy who does something ‘not nice’ to someone in order to get the last piece of uVu VR headset for his son for Christmas. The headset is supposed to to allow users to live out their fantasies but Green finds himself haunted by it. There was a cool sort of Twilight Zone/Stephen King feel to the story and the execution was not too shabby either.
The final piece, a collaboration by Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer and Adam Egypt Mortimer highlights the plight of sad and lonely hearts during the New Year’s celebration. Two disturbed singles find themselves crossing paths when a simple date evolves into a battlefield. War of the Roses meets Saw. It was a cool concept that didn’t fail with the overall output.
All in all, I felt that Holidays was a pretty good effort for all filmmakers involved. It still felt like an experiment of sorts, and seemed lopsided at best but that’s to be expected from this type of film. It does manage to build up to a decent finish so I’m not complaining.