A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
★ / ★★★★
“A Christmas Horror Story,” directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan, is not a slasher film but it might as well have been one because by the final ten minutes, almost all of its characters have died in gruesome ways. It is a depressing horror picture because it offers no suspense, thrill, or even a modicum of gore shed in a creative way.
Instead, the film offers a lot of busyness, from the intolerably ordinary dialogue to high-pitched tones and screeches when something pops up from the corner or ceiling. Although the plot involves four stories told side by side, tenuously connected by a pair of horrible teen murders in a prison exactly a year ago, not one is even marginally interesting. The most convincing element in the movie is how the snow looks.
Perhaps the “best” of the four terrible strands, certainly one with the most potential, takes place in the North Pole as Santa (George Buza) makes last-minute preparations for Christmas Eve. During their busiest time of the year, an infection begins to spread amongst the elves, rendering them rabid, murderous. There is a brilliant twist in the end that completely captivated me, I caught a smile being drawn on my face despite wasting more than ninety minutes of my precious life with this truly egregious picture.
Right on that story’s tail, in terms of potential but not execution, is a family of three (Adrian Holmes, Oluniké Adeliyi, Orion John) who sneak off into the woods to cut down a pine tree. On their way back, the little boy gets separated from his parents. Mom and Dad find him after a couple of minutes… at least someone who they believe to be their son. This story should have been the most suspenseful because there are plenty of quiet moments where—if the screenplay had been sharper—we had a chance to wonder what one was thinking or feeling. Instead, the material relies on jump scares and badly edited, so-called attacks.
Most intolerable and groan-inducing involves a trio of high school students (Zoé De Grand Maison, Alex Ozerov, Shannon Kook) sneaking into the aforementioned prison to capture eerie images for a school assignment. These teenagers do and say nothing interesting or funny, or anything mildly amusing. The images are plain, downright ugly, computerized, most uninspired. And yes, because the characters are teenagers, sex just had to be utilized for the sake of being utilized—which I found disgusting, degrading, and insulting.
I would like to know whose idea it was to include such unnecessary scenes to the story and tell him, or them, personally to grow, barter, or buy imagination because what he has, currently, is not working. Audiences do not need more people like you to contribute such tawdry, vile, less-than-nothing ideas and pass them as art. If you are unable to acquire said imagination by your next project, please do yourself—and us—a favor and find another career path. It is never too late to find something you’re actually good at, preferably a path that could actually benefit society, not set it back.