Holidays movie full length review - More Bad than Good Anthology
The horror anthology or "portmanteau" goes back to the 40s with the release of DEAD OF NIGHT. The popularity of the format has come and gone.
It hit a peak in the early 70s with the Amicus films based off popular EC Comics. Again, in the 80s with movies like CREEPSHOW and THE TWILIGHT ZONE, the anthology rose to popularity, but then there was a significant gap until the last decade. I would propose that the current trend starting with the success of V/H/S, then THE ABCs of DEATH, and all of a sudden it seems like Netflix is exploding with low budget horror anthologies. The lure is that it offers young directors a chance to bring visions to the screen without a big budget and detailed script. Most of them, though, are very hit or miss with a few good tales being bogged down by an overwhelming number of sub-par entries. That is certainly the case here, where you could almost say that there are a few average ones and more bad ones.
The problem with most entries in these anthologies is that they all seem to want to follow the TALES FROM THE CRYPT blueprint, which is probably innate in the nature of the short story because a writer can never fully develop a plot, but most fall into this trap of building up a premise, then delivering a twist end with a signature gore gag, or something similar. It's just been done so much that you expect it, now, as a viewer.
There is no "wraparound story" tying these entries together, as is often popular in this format. We have just 8 tales.
VALENTINE'S DAY blurs that line between homage and imitation, as it spends a lot of its' setup essentially ripping off CARRIE. They would tell you its' homage, but it's the same freaking story. A young girl, with a tragic past, is picked on by her classmates. Ultimately, she gets her revenge (who didn't see that coming) and deliver the requisite twist ending. There are bizarre choices in music and tone that make the story almost cartoonish, at times.
Next, the man who destroyed Dracula in Dracula UNTOLD destroys ST. PATICK'S DAY. A holiday that could have so many stories around it becomes a ridiculous farce that combines THE WICKER MAN with the stupidest looking gag snake this side of a dollar store. A young woman becomes pregnant with a serpent that is needed by some cult for some reason. It's all very Irish and something to do with a greaser and a little girl. I gave up trying to understand the symbolism that I'm sure some writer that was so profound.
EASTER is like a horror movie twist on the Tim Allen movie THE SANTA CLAUSE. A young girl is told not to get out of bed on Easter Eve, but of course does and finds something horrifying. While I applaud the mixture of Christian and Pagan uses of the holiday and the use of practical effects, the actual monster is poorly done. The judges on FACE OFF would have destroyed it for its' lack of believable mobility. As a story, its' one of the better entries, but only because it's one of the few that tries to be scary.
MOTHER'S DAY is feminist mumbo jumbo. Something about a woman who can't stop getting pregnant and witches (who are suddenly so popular in indie horror) using her for a ritual. Again, some college student probably figures this is intelligent symbolism, but amounts to nothing more than sound and fury signifying nothing.
FATHER'S DAY might have been my favorite of the lot where a young woman gets a tape from her long lost father, leading her on a quest to find him. The imagery is stark, the story is minimal and that's probably best. Rather than trying to create a tight story in 15 minutes, the director simplifies, allowing him to experiment with tone and look and creating the most creepy story in the movie.
HALLOWEEN is Kevin Smith's entry and just incredibly stupid. Young girls, exploited, get revenge. Since we've seen that story a billion times, he can't stop himself from injecting juvenile humor. His daughter is now becoming his Sherri Moon, a completely talentless relative that a director won't stop casting in his work.
Christmas is by a director who created Hollywood bombs like PRIEST and LEGION. Here we get Seth Green (why I'm not sure because he's never really allowed to be funny), in a story about the dangers of virtual reality that is so obvious as to be ridiculous.
Finally, we get to NEW YEAR'S EVE, where Eli Roth's wife shows up in a plot that's been done too many times before, as well, a killer picks the wrong victim, who is far more dangerous than he is.
Movies like V/H/S have proved that you can do this format with spectacular results, but I walked away feeling like no one tried very hard on this project and it shows.