Review: ‘A Christmas Horror Story’

A Christmas Horror StoryWhen it comes to the modern horror anthology series, Trick ‘r Treat raised and reset the bar. It’s perhaps the champion of the genre, creating well-rounded characters whose stories overlap masterfully, while delivering all sorts of various scares and monsters in a mere 82 minutes. A Christmas Horror Story attempts to follow suit, instead taking on the jolliest of holidays, but the result is far less effective.

William Shatner plays Dangerous Dan, a radio DJ putting in a long shift during the Christmas holiday. (Seriously, how the hell did they get Shatner in this movie?) While he’s at work plugging away and chugging nog, we witness a series of four stories. Here’s a quick rundown:

The first: A bunch of kids break into their school where a couple of murders occurred years before. Is the murderer still on the loose or is something more malevolent at play? (Not-so-spoilery spoiler alert: it’s a ghost story.)

Second: Scott and his wife Kim trek out into the woods with their son Will to fetch the perfect Christmas tree. After losing Will for a brief spell, panic takes over. When they retrieve their son who was found hiding in a tree, the couple takes him home, but the boy appears to have been changed by or possessed by something dark. What happened in the woods?

Third: A white, entitled rich family are heading to visit their elderly Aunt on Christmas Eve. During their visit, their jerk of a son breaks a krampus statue on purpose, causing Aunt Edda to freak and kick them out (which I would’ve too because these characters are such unlovable pricks). On their way home, their car spins out and a real-life krampus starts stalking them in the snow.

Fourth: In the North Pole, Santa Claus discovers that all of his elves have turned into zombies that he must destroy.

Do these setups sound rather one-dimensional? That’s because they are. While the stories all unravel around each other, there’s not much to grasp on to here, which is exceptionally disappointing when promised with zombie elves. The Shatner-DJ setup is weak, and every mini-tale leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that this anthology is disjointed or even a total wash, but it is pretty dull and uninspired, with half-cooked tales, mediocre characters and acting, and an overall lack of energy.

Other than a badass looking Krampus, the biggest joy this Christmas Horror Story delivers is at the very end of Santa Clause’s tale–which ultimately concludes the whole shebang. It’ll finally jolt you awake if you’ve gotten lost in a land of sugar plums, but it’ll make you wish the rest of the film packed that much of a punch. Grade: C-

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