HOLIDAYS

PrintE-mail Written by J. R. Southall

Harking back both to anthology and calendar-related horrors of the past, Holidays sets a task for each of eight different film-makers, to come up with an idea strong enough to represent a particular date, but slight enough to be told in around ten minutes or so of screen-time. Thus we have a collection of eight short films spanning Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, and taking in the likes of St Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day in between. It’s an odd and seemingly quite arbitrary collection of occasions.

Immediately the film begins, a theme appears to develop, with both Kölsh and Widmyer’s opening, Carrie-esque instalment and Gary Shore’s Irish-set St Patrick’s Day tale taking place in schools; the first five films, in fact, all involve children, two of them including unplanned pregnancies. The best of these is perhaps Anthony Scott Burns’ Father’s Day story, in which teacher Jocelin Donahue receives a message from the past which takes her on an unexpected journey. It’s an intriguing psychological tale which only disappoints at the resolution, a side effect of the sting in the tail format which informs the short story nature of the collection. Nicholas McCarthy’s Easter tale is a childhood fear made real, while Sarah Adina Smith’s Mother’s Day echoes the fertility themes of the second story. There is, in spite of the haphazard approach to the structure of Holidays, a level of quality present that makes each chapter of the film an absorbing and mostly enjoyable delight.

Halloween by Kevin Smith, is where the film changes direction, a sordid revenge fantasy set in the seedy world of phone sex lines that marks the story out as his work before you even read the credit. It is as accomplished as everything else, but the change in tone is abrupt and unsettling. The final two films are perhaps the most memorable, Kölsh and Widmyer’s closing episode (directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer) a kind of love story for two lost souls, and Scott Stewart’s penultimate Christmas tale probably the best of the entire bunch. Seth Green manages to pick up the year’s must-have Christmas present in unsettling circumstances, only to find the present itself revealing an even more disconcerting situation at home.

With music and cinematography exclusive to each of the short films (the John Carpenter-styled score and hokey camerawork of the first story is a joy), Holidays is never as consistent as, say, the Amicus portmanteaus of the past. And it’s hard to get past the seen-it-before nature of several of the stories and their resolutions. Nevertheless, the diversity of approaches makes Holidays if nothing else unpredictable, and the overall effect is as entertaining and as satisfying as might be hoped for.

Special Features: Trailer

HOLIDAYS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KEVIN KÖLSCH, DENNIS WIDMYER, GARY SHORE, NICHOLAS MCCARTHY, SARAH ADINA SMITH, ANTHONY SCOTT BURNS, KEVIN SMITH, SCOTT STEWART, ADAM EGYPT MORTIMER / SCREENPLAY: KEVIN KÖLSCH, DENNIS WIDMYER, GARY SHORE, NICHOLAS MCCARTHY, SARAH ADINA SMITH, ANTHONY SCOTT BURNS, KEVIN SMITH, SCOTT STEWART / STARRING: MADELEINE COGHLAN, RICK PETERS, RUTH BRADLEY, SETH GREEN, CLARE GRANT/ RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 10TH

 


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