Holidays (2016)

Holiday Horror

Directors: Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer, Gary Shore, Nicholas McCarthy, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Smith, Scott Stewart, Adam Egypt Mortimer
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Starring: Madeline Coghlan, Rick Peters, Ruth Bradley, Isolt McCaffrey, Ava Acres, Sophie Traub, Jocelin Donahue, Michael Gross, Harley Quinn Smith, Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush, Harley Morenstein, Seth Green, Andrew Bowen, Lorenza Izzo

The idea of a horror anthology centred around different holidays is a deceptively simple idea, leaving one to wonder why it hasn't already been done. But anthologies run the risk of being unable to deliver a satisfying overall whole. It can often be difficult for a film to bring one decent story to the table, so timesing that by eight is a bit more of a risky task. One which Holidays is unable to deliver.

The picture opens with Valentine's Day, directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer. It's a standard tale of Maxine (Madeline Coghlan), a youth who's bullied by her peers, while carrying a torch for her gym teacher, Coach Rockwell (Rick Peters). Taking sympathy on her, Rockwell gifts her with a Valentines card, which unintentionally spurs Maxine to take commit a horrific act. In spite of the visuals, it's a tale handled in a haphazard manner. No matter how nice the card was, it's difficult to believe the coach doesn't speak out against the harsh bullying, but ultimately, there's little interest to be garnered here.

An oft underused holiday for the horror genre, St Patrick's Day is brought alive by director Gary Shore. Ruth Bradley portrays Elizabeth, a teacher who longs for a child, and finds herself beset by an unnerving child in her class, Grainne (Isolt McCaffrey). After a night out, she finds herself pregnant, but her joy turns to shock, as she's told it's with a snake. It's far from perfect, a bit more time would've been beneficial, but what remains is an effectively creepy piece of body horror.

Nicholas McCarthy puts an interesting wrinkle on the Easter holiday, as a curious child (Ava Acres) makes the mistake of leaving her bed in the middle of the night, when the Easter bunny arrives. The nightmarish personification of this holiday is well designed, while the idea of it being unseen by children is changed in an intriguing manner. It's easily one of the highlights of this anthology.

Unfortunately, it's followed by one of the films weaker parts. Mother's Day follows Kate (Sophie Traub), a woman who gets pregnant whenever she has sex. Having had over 20 abortions, she seeks help at a desert retreat, where women unable to conceive venture. Sarah Adina Smith wastes the interesting concept, doing little except drag things on.

Thankfully, it's followed by the best of the bunch. One couldn't tell it's the directorial debut for Anthony Scott Burns, who handles the atmospheric Father's Day with clear skill. Carol (Jocelin Donahue) one day receives a cassette tape from her father (Michael Gross), whom she believed to be dead after he disappeared on that day when she was a child. Listening to the tape leads her to a dark mystery, expertly woven in this intriguing mystery which will remain with you.

A favourite holiday for horror films, the Halloween segment is directed by the most high profile director in this assortment, Kevin Smith. Don't get excited by the idea of him directing horror though, as it remains an unbearable piece of trash. Three webcam girls (Harley Quinn Smith, Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush) decide to seek revenge on their horrendous pig of a boss, Ian (Harley Morenstein). After the obligatory set up, it turns into a low budget, amateurish attempt at Saw, with worse writing. All one's left with from this segment is hope that Kevin Smith veers far from the horror genre.

Scott Stewart helms the Christmas segment, which sees family man Pete (Seth Green) miss out on getting the last pair of virtual reality glasses, a hotly wanted item. When the man who took the last pair suffers a heart attack, Pete is faced with a moral dilemma: save the mans life, or let him die and take the gift. He selects the latter option, and finds himself haunted by his actions. The segment is easily forgettable, barely elevated by an interesting turn of events, only to end on another turn, which strains credibility.

The final short takes place on New Year's Eve, which opens on the disturbed Reggie (Andrew Bowen) executing his hostage, due to him being unable to make her love him. With the end of the year approaching, lonely Jean (Lorenza Izzo) accepts an invitation for a date from him. As Reggie prepares for the night ahead, he's unaware that his date is hiding a deadly secret. While the short is far from memorable, the more pressing problem is how, by the end, this segment is pretty close to the prior one.

There are some decent splashes of ideas within Holidays, as well as some darn good arguments for horror films set on some of those days. But the biggest problem lies in the overall product, which gets bogged down by the numerous forgettable or downright awful segments. This makes it difficult to recommend the picture, even for the good moments.