Monday, December 26, 2016

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Most Christmas movies try to replicate some feeling of the holidays in some way. Well, this movie is like the stale feeling of the day after Christmas when you have to stand in line at the mall to return some shitty toy your kid decided he didn't want, and then going home to eat leftover Christmas dinner that just isn't as good.

Director: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Starring: William Shatner, George Buza

Co-written with Michelle.

This is an anthology series, Trick 'R Treat style with the stories all intercut within each other so the movie is constantly going back and forth between all of them, but that's really about the only similarity with Trick 'R' Treat. That movie was actually fun and had a good sense of wit, and this one... well, neither of those things describes this movie. The best I can say about it is 'you could do worse.'

We start this off with Game Of Thrones Santa here hearing some weird noises from behind a door... and then it just kind of cuts away without properly starting a story. Uh, I think you guys were sleeping through the part of class where they taught how to start a fucking movie.

Then we get a bunch of other stories, like this one about a radio host played by William Shatner of all people, who just yammers on and on to no one, babbling about things that make no sense, until this one other guy in the studio with him just has enough:

Strangely this is what happens every time William Shatner tries to tell anyone anything - they respond with 'Fuck Christmas.' It's an oddly specific trigger for some reason.

Then there's the family going to visit their grandma who lives in, apparently, a mansion from a CLUE game or something. The father, who is apparently cast as a discount Chevy Chase from National Lampoon, is only really going to shake his aunt down for some of that sweet, sweet inheritance money! Merry Christmas!

"The only thing more powerful than the Christmas spirit is my relentless, disgusting greed."

Fortunately (for me; unfortunately for him) his idiotic son breaks a Krampus figurine on the grandma's shelf, which prompts her to throw them all out immediately. Oh how I can just feel the Yuletide spirit flowing through this movie's veins. I like how the rest of their story involves them being hunted by the Krampus... what, just because they broke that stupid figurine? Really? Who knew the Krampus was such a whiny baby.

Then the Krampus went and told on the idiotic son to the teacher, who put the boy in time out for this heinous offense.

I guess it's revealed later on that they've all done some horrible things to warrant the Krampus coming after them, like the daughter has stolen a few things and the little boy has killed a bunch of animals in the neighborhood. Wait, hold on, woah – that's a fucking insane thing to just drop out of nowhere. How is this just a footnote in this movie? Shouldn't the whole story be about the little serial killer in the making? This kindergartener version of fucking Dexter? I really think that would've been more entertaining of a story.

In the end, only the mother survives, and she goes back to the grandma's house, where she learns that the Krampus is actually sort of a weird werewolf-type creature in this story, who someone with a lot of rage and anger can just turn into at the holiday times. This is such a dumb story that I am amazed anyone wrote this crap with a straight face. It's not even played like a comedy – it's totally fucking serious. There are a lot of people angry at the holidays. Do all of them turn into the retarded cousin of the Abominable Snowman on Christmas?

Anyway, the wife then turns into the Krampus herself, seemingly understanding exactly how it works despite it being a totally alien concept. She kills the grandma, because violence against old people is always cool.

In another story, a family is out getting a Christmas tree at, I guess, a location they're not supposed to be in. The little kid gets sucked into the tree from Stranger Things and when his family finds him, he's acting strange and different.

"Hey, our kid came out of a tree-hole, better not ask him if he's okay and instead just go back to normal life! Whoop-de-do!"

Like, later on he just will not quit eating spaghetti – I know, the horror, right? He's so in love with spaghetti that he stabs his own father with a fork for trying to take it away from him! Ouch! That's gotta hurt!

He also does other weird things like stand in the bathroom and watch his mom take a shower. I'm just blown away at the creativity and imagination of this movie's evil kid actions – eating too much spaghetti and watching his mom shower. The most evil and diabolical shit ever, truly.

If by now you're thinking that this kid must warrant some type of disciplinary action, well, the father has all your domestic violence needs covered as he starts shouting at the kid and asking what's wrong with him. The kid responds by upping the ante on violence and killing his father, like it's some kind of fucking contest. Jeez, kid! Bit of an overreaction!

Just, tone it down a little, ya know.

Continuing in the mold of child abuse, the mother, recognizing that there's some kind of demon inside her son, beats him up with a baseball bat until he's unconscious. You know, I'm starting to doubt that there's any demon in this story. This family is just fucking violent and fucked up.

But there IS a demon, I guess, so the mom has to take him back out into the woods at the behest of this weird fat guy who says he's the guardian of the dwarves or some bullshit.

… you know, when I write that out, it sounds pretty fucking stupid.

What follows is an extremely half-assed “climax” to this story where she accidentally shoots the fat guy somehow (whoopsy-daisy! This accidental murder is never mentioned again!), so I guess there's a moment of thinking there's no way to get the kid back. The thing she THOUGHT was her son turns into a weird dwarf creature that looks like your 85-year-old neighbor run over with a truck and then put too long in the dryer.

Looks like Gollum with leukemia.

Fortunately, despite its hostility before, now it just wants to help: she looks into its eyes and asks for its help, and it just goes into the Stranger Things hole in the tree and gets her kid back for her, no further trouble at all. Wow is that underwhelming. What's next, a story about this thing helping an old woman across the street? Is this the PBS Kids Horror Hour now?

The other story is about three idiots breaking into this abandoned mental asylum or school or something like that to film a documentary. This one is pretty boring and mostly consists of them just wandering around like morons, even settling in to sleep there once they find themselves locked in, I guess. That's good for the one girl, though, as she coaxes this nerdy guy to come with her and have sex.

Then it's discovered that there's some convoluted plot about a ghost girl or something who tried to have a child but died in childbirth I guess. So now the ghost just tries again and again to have a baby through a human girl by possessing them to have sex. I guess it works this time, too, as she gets pregnant and kills the guy, presumably then going off to have her baby and live in the dank, abandoned mental asylum or something. This is the worst porno setup ever; zero out of five stars.

What did this have to do with Christmas, anyway? Because there's a crucifixion pose in it? That is a pretty thin point of connection.

Meanwhile in the wraparound story about Santa, he ends up fighting all of his elves as they turn into bloodthirsty zombies. It's not too bad of a sequence, with some fun violence and carnage. But it's pretty hard to find it badass when he keeps shouting out the elves' names as he's killing them – hearing anybody shout 'Not you, too, Sparkles!' before chopping off an elf's head is pretty confused and jumbled. It's mostly just silly.

Then he fights the Krampus in the manner of a stale ripoff of a bad superhero flick, with him saying a bunch of stuff like 'Krampus, my mortal enemy.' It's all pretty lame. Like if the kid from Jingle All The Way wrote a horror story.

Then it's actually revealed that none of the Santa shit was real, and he was actually just some nutjob that went on a rampage in a local mall, butchering and killing a bunch of innocent people. Wow, that's horrifically unpleasant – maybe it'd be a good twist if this was a whole movie's worth of a story, but as is, it's just tonally confused and kind of ugly and depressing. Merry Christmas!

This is a pretty weak anthology. I guess you could do way worse – nothing here is outright awful or anything. But the stories are not really that well written, with have extremely weak endings and a lack of any kind of point. I said the final story was tonally confused, and really, the whole thing is; the movie doesn't seem to have anything it particularly wants you to take away after you finish it.

In addition, the way the stories are all jumbled up just doesn't work, and further removes any kind of tension or scares this might have had because they're not really cut up in an engaging manner. It feels like this was all just thrown together at the last minute, like a really shitty, lazy last minute Christmas present.

And who likes those? It's usually better for everyone if said gift is just never given at all.

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