The classic anthology horror effort is a big favourite of us here at STARBURST. When done right, you get something maniacally memorable such as Creepshow or Trick r’ Treat, yet if handled poorly then you just have a mish-mash of different stories that fall flat and disrupt each other’s pacing and storytelling. So, could Holiday, the latest horror anthology, deliver something of note or are we in for another bland, played-out stroll through a menagerie of mundane tales that we’ve seen before? As ever with such a film, it’s a little hard to judge it as one movie, but we’ll do our best. Safe to say, as expected, some of the segments here are more noteworthy than others.
What ties all of these short efforts together is that each individual segment focusses on a particular holiday; Dennis Widymer and Scott Stewart’s Valentine’s Day tale centres on a bulled schoolgirl desperate to win the heart of her swimming coach; Gary Shore’s St. Patrick’s Day effort focusses on an Irish teacher who has a rather strange pregnancy; the Easter-driven contribution from Nicholas McCarthy delivers an eerily wonderful mish-mash of a creature who’s after more than just chocolate eggs; Sarah Adina Smith’s Mother’s Day tale gives us a woman who gets pregnant every single time she has sex; Anthony Scott Burns’ Father’s Day outing is a chilling, tense affair that sees a young woman desperate to reconnect with her long-gone daddy dearest; the Halloween segment from good ol’ Kevin Smith is a demented and fun turning of the tables where the online business of sex shows is concerned; Seth Green stars in Scott Stewart’s Christmas tale that explores how far your willing to go to get that special must-have Christmas present; and Adam Egypt Mortimer’s New Year’s story looks at the potential problems of online dating.
In terms of the highlights, all of the segments have their own unique charms and stylings, although the true standouts are the Father’s Day and Halloween tales. That’s not to say that the other stories are not without their merits, though, and Gary Shore’s Paddy’s Day story really is one to make your skin crawl. What makes the Father’s Day segment stand out is how Anthony Scott Burns masterfully amps up the bleak, relentless tension as poor Carol (Jocelin Donahue) wishfully and willfully attempts to track down a father who she thought she had lost forever. You simply cannot take your eyes off the screen where this tale is concerned, listening and watching intently as the young woman takes directions from a cold and creepy pre-recorded message. And where the other standout, Kevin Smith’s Halloween offering, is concerned, it’s a charming, demented and twisted tale that is brimming with the style, feel and dialogue that we’ve come to expect from the man behind the likes of Clerks, Mallrats and Dogma, whilst also utilising some of the horror elements Smith has explored with more recent efforts such as Red State and Tusk. In this particular story, Harley Morenstein is great as uber-asshat Ian, a guy exploiting young women (including Smith’s daughter Harley) by promising them the world but instead offering them merely a webcam and orders on when to lose their clothes. Let's just say, these girls get to get their revenge in a wonderfully messed-up way.
Holidays is certainly one of the better anthology offerings of recent years. It isn’t as humourous as some of the anthology classics of yesteryear that you may be thinking of – the aforementioned Creepshow, Body Bags or even the Tales from the Crypt efforts – but it is definitely one of the most outright creepy of its kind. There really is a constant theme of dread pouring from each and every one of these short and sinister tales, with the humour being kept to a minimum for the most part. All of the segments here are intriguing in their own ways, with none of them being particularly weak, although we’re sure you’ll find your own favourites should you pick up this feature and take in this twisted, tormented delight.
HOLIDAYS / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ANTHONY SCOTT BURNS, KEVIN KOLSCH, NICHOLAS MCCARTHY, ADAM EGYPT MORTIMER, GARY SHORE, KEVIN SMITH, SARAH ADINA SMITH, SCOTT STEWART, DENIS WIDMYER / STARRING: MADELEINE COGHLAN, RICK PETERS, RUTH BRADLEY, SETH GREEN, CLARE GRANT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US), JULY 18TH (UK), AVAILABLE ONLINE AT WE ARE COLONY