Combustible Celluloid
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With: William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoé De Grand Maison, Alex Ozerov, Shannon Kook, Amy Forsyth, Jeff Clarke, Michelle Nolden, Adrian Holmes, Oluniké Adeliyi, Orion John, Alan C. Peterson, Percy Hynes-White, Corinne Conley, Julian Richings, Debra McCabe
Written by: James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor, Pascal Trottier
Directed by: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 99
Date: 10/02/2015

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Carol of the Hells

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The first official Christmas movie I saw in 2015, A Christmas Horror Story is a very clever and bloody fun anthology. Its four intertwined segments all have roughly the same impact; there's no obvious weak link, as in many anthologies. They cover a good cross-section of subjects and settings, and they even come to a surprisingly twisted conclusion. The editing is solid, finding the perfect beats and mini-cliffhangers before switching stories. The presence of William Shatner helps a great deal, starring in the wraparound sequence as radio DJ "Dangerous Dan," who pulls a double-shift on Christmas Eve to bring us all a little cheer. (He begins drinking egg nog laced with whisky, and eventually switches to straight whisky.)

The first story involves a crew of teen documentarians investigating a murder that took place one year earlier at their school (don't worry... it's not a "found footage" segment). Then, a couple brings their young son into a forbidden woods to get the perfect Christmas tree, only to meet a changeling. In his workshop, Santa Claus himself must deal with an outbreak of zombie elves ("no elves were harmed during the making of this production," the credits inform us). Finally, a man brings his family to see his wealthy elderly aunt. On the way home, their car spins off the road and they become lost in the woods, pursued by none other than Krampus, the evil spirt of Christmas.

A trio of directors (Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett Sullivan) give the movie a polished look and feel, filled with Christmas colors (notably red) and white snow. The terrific opening title sequence features a great, creepy rendition of "Carol of the Bells" that I want on my annual Christmas playlist. Stay during the end credits for more Shatner; either he's actually really drunk or he's the greatest actor in the world.

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