Holidays (2016, dir. Various)


Valentine’s Day (written & directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer)

St. Patrick’s Day (written & directed by Gary Shore)

Easter (written & directed by Nicholas McCarthy)

Mother’s Day (written & directed by Sarah Adina Smith)

Father’s Day (written & directed by Anthony Scott Burns)

Halloween (written & directed by Kevin Smith)

Christmas (written & directed by Scott Stewart)

New Year’s Eve (written by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer; directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer)

These days the horror anthology is quite popular. I’d say their revival started with 2007’s Trick R Treat, though in the low budget independent world they never went away. Some popular recent ones have been The ABCs of Horror 1 & 2, V/H/S 1, 2, & 3, A Christmas Horror Story, and Southbound. You know what they all had in common? They’re mostly awful. You get a good segment here or there, but it’s not a complete collection of great horror. I can see the appeal of this type of movie. In the YouTube age, short form entertainment is in high demand so many viewers probably sit down with the mindset of “If I don’t like this in fifteen minutes I’ll be seeing something else”.

Holidays is another horror anthology that suffers from this problem, and has some of the worst segments I’ve seen in a modern horror anthology. The bookending stories are terrible and in particular Kevin Smith’s contribution is pointless garbage, that he also manages to also shoehorn his untalented daughter into. The concept of Holidays is just that: Holidays. Each horror short is themed after a particular holiday. Lots of potential, eh? Of the eight short films included here there are only three good ones. Those three are really good though. Worth paying money to sit through the five other pieces of crap?….ehhhhh.

Let’s be positive though. We’ll talk about the good stuff.

Easter is from the writer-director of The Pact, a pretty decent horror film from a few years back. He knows how to pace things, he knows what ambiguity is. He takes horror seriously and doesn’t view it as gory comedy, like some others in this collection. Easter goes to some really weird places and it leaves us with lots of questions. On the surface we get a very silly monster, but the things he does and says overcome his silly nature and make him really creepy and unsettling. You’ll think about this one more than most of the others.

Mother’s Day is a little predictable. And it’s the second film in the anthology to deal with an evil pregnancy. St. Patrick’s Day also features an unwanted pregnancy but ends on such a stupid, ridiculous note you’ll want to get your tubes tied (snake with a pompadour, really movie?). Mother’s Day is about a woman who gets pregnant every time she has intercourse and has had two dozen abortions. Her doctor can’t figure out why she is so overly fertile so she sends the woman to an isolated commune for holistic healing. Like I said, the plot is pretty predictable but at least the acting and directing show some skill.

Father’s Day is the best film in the collection. Like seriously, turn off the movie after you watching this one. They get progressively worse. Father’s Day is about a young woman who receives an audio cassette recording from her deceased father. Turns out he didn’t die like mom told her. The recording leads her to the last place she saw him and she retraces his steps. This is actually a horror film. It has character development. It has a plot that we can’t predict and a resolution we don’t see coming. It doesn’t think horror stories are one big bloody joke. There’s no gore. It ends in a really really ambiguous way.

Horror anthologies have a shitty trend of thinking the only way you tell horror stories is to make them into jokes with gore. That’s not scary. Horror should be the opposite of comedy. Comedy is set up and then pay off. Horror should be 90% set up and then most of the time not even give pay off. That’s what makes it horror. You don’t get the clean resolution so it gets stuck in your brain and creeps you out every time you think of it. I recommend those three segments, so if you can somehow find them separately online or can get someone to pay for your rental of Holidays watch them. But skip every other segment in this collection.

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