Holidays is the latest in a recent trend of omnibus horror films, anthology films composed of strung together vignettes all from different writers and directors. These films usually center around a common theme, the V/H/S films compiled found footage stories, the shorts in The ABC’s of Death movies were all inspired by a letter of the alphabet, and in Holidays each film centers around, you guessed it, a holiday. It’s an idea that seems so obvious that I can’t believe it hasn’t been before. The horror genre need no longer be inundated with ill-conceived holiday inspired features. We’ve found their prefect format.
All anthology films are uneven, and Holidays is no exception. But its segments hit the mark more often than not, and while the results are sometimes more bewildering than horrifying, the writers have created eight genuinely surprising shorts. The length here is key. Holidays seems to have struck the near perfect number, yielding eight 10-15 minute shorts that never overstay their welcome but have enough time to build real narratives instead of settling for quick and dirty punch lines.
Many of the shorts aim to for laughs, rather than scares, but that doesn’t make them any less fun. The Christmas segment starring Seth Green features a topical VR toy that shows dark secrets and intimate moments, and Kevin Smith’s Halloween segment takes things is a jolt of twisted comedy. Nicholas McCarthy takes things in the opposite direction for his Father’s Day segment, giving us a humorless, dread filled twelve minutes. But whether they’re scary or funny, the one thing these stories are not is predictable. The writers and directors have steered clear of the expected avenues, so don’t expect any psychopathic Santas or evil leprechauns, there are more insidious and surprising thrills here.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Holidays is a shining example of how the anthology film should work. It showcases a generation of new and upcoming talent in the horror world and does it with style and surprise. If it seems like your cup of tea, Holidays is heading up the midnight section at the Tribeca Film Festival and should be heading to VOD in the near future.