Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: A Christmas Horror Story

of 9 viewers "Liked" "A Christmas Horror Story" (2015, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Lord Battle - "Scary stories shared on a snowy night is enough detail to create a rich setting for a holiday horror anthology, it's just too bad that A Christmas Horror Story threw all their well produced short stories into a blender and produced a style of story-telling so rotten, I wouldn't feed it to the goblins... Well, maybe Dabbles. I did find some pleasure in the 2 stories that victimized children, while the Santa short made me cringe, and the Krampus just looked too lame to fear, let alone take seriously. As it stands, A Christmas Horror Story is worthy of an bi-annual, early December screening. As we save the real conjurers of holiday mayhem for the later dates." - 3 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "The first time I saw this anthology was on a Christmas Eve after everyone else had gone to bed, and I must say this is a truly ideal way to enjoy this admittedly middling effort. There is enough here that engages and amuses to keep your attention. Shatner's DJ character is a delightful punctuation to the stories to the film's stories. Two of the stories seem almost like filler, but the story of the Child and the story of Santa are engaging enough that on my second viewing I looked forward to experiencing them. That being said, I'm fairly certain this film will lose most if not all of its magic if not viewed during the holidays, and the stories of the traveling family and the kids in the basement are a case of diminishing returns on stories that were mediocre to begin with. It may sound strange to say, but I think Shatner's limited screen time are ultimately what compel me to give this a score of three; much in the way the holidays give the film a extra air of charisma, so Shatner's whiskeyed (coinage!) musings influence our predisposition to give the film's weaker moments a pass." - 3 Stars

The Impostor - "If you love Christmas and horror films, A Christmas Horror Story is the perfect blend of both. I went in thinking I'd really hate this film especially after seeing many crappy Krampus films that went straight to DVD beforehand. I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed this fun and excited holiday horror. The film is an anthology filled with suspense, gore, blood and even zombie elves. Each of the interlaced stories are enjoyable there isn't one I didn't like. Going into this with little to no expectations really paid off and I'd recommend it that way. Overall, A Christmas Horror Story is one to definitely add to your yearly holiday watch list. And it would make a great double feature with Trick R Treat for sure." - 4.5 Stars

Huntress - "I love a good anthology horror. Although it never crossed my mind that these stories wouldn't just be sequential, I was not completely opposed to the layered, interwoven story telling. My only complaint would be that there was no apparent reason for most of these stories to be in the same movie at all. I would have rathered the Southbound setup, where the end of one story leads into the next one. And the Shatner wrap around was kind of lacking as far an tying things together went. And as a standalone story it felt bland. That being said, A Christmas Horror Story was still well made and fun to watch for the most part. I could see throwing this on around Christmas every year, maybe as I put up decorations. It had moments on both sides of the spectrum but didn't really have a majority on either." - 3 Stars

Trash - "I like reading a book, but what I really love is reading 4 mediocre books at the same time! One of the things that makes anthology films forgivable is that if you don't like one of the segments, it's gonna end pretty soon. Unless they are all inter-cut without reason, like in A Christmas Horror Story! Although none of the 4 tales are at all bad, it’s hard to engage with any of them due to the presentation. The inter-cut narratives give the viewer repeated blue balls; as each story-line starts to get exciting, the movie cuts back to another that’s half a mile behind in its pacing. Clearly the goal was to create a Christmas version of Trick ‘r Treat, which, in my opinion they succeeded at. Both are empty, loud spectacles wrapped up in their own cleverness and gaudy displays of recognizable holiday tropes. Not terrible, but basically it's like the cinematic equivalent of a Smirnoff ice wrapped in Christmas lights. Too fucking sweet, but does get you drunk, and appeals to those without the palate to recognize it's just themed cheap malt liquor. Sorry guys. I’m ready to shoot my eyes out." - 2 Stars

Speed Demon - "I always liked the idea of a few different short stories wrapped into one film. It's a setup for an attention grabber. Especially when they mix it up throughout instead of doing it one by one. The Krampus and Santa story is by far the best and feel as if they should have just focused on that and disregarded the other two stories. This film is definitely worth a watch and possibly one to add to the Christmas collection. Very cool ending that caught me of guard." - 3 Stars

KillDozer - "When it comes to Christmas horror one thing is for sure, "they don't make them like they used to". I had fun with this title but as we all know the anthology is a hard thing to pull off and even more so when you're dealing with Christmas as a subject matter. I will give this title a Christmas star for each segment I liked but first let's talk about the talent that went into this. The directors and writers are most wildly known for bringing the classics Ginger Snaps and Splice to the screen! That is enough to check this title out, not to mention the fact that one of the stars is William Shatner who is our wrap around host. Some segments hit while others miss; much like the ill received Tales of Halloween this is a labor of love by talented individuals who for whatever reason fell flat in a few stories. With that being said I do keep this title as a holiday tradition for one reason, it is fun and one story in particular is incredibly fun, entertaining, and worth the watch each year. This should be watched with fun group and even some solid hecklers if you know any. I would also recommend it as a gift for the casual horror viewer in your life. As promised a rating based on the segments I liked and watch each year" - 2.5 Stars

Dabbles - "Wow so many different things going on but works great. Although there were parts I was totally like "What?! Come on!" it was very good to watch during the season." - 4 Stars

The Great Hornito - "Krampus looked like a cartoon character and the zombie elves were typical and stupid but I really enjoyed the other two shorts. " - 2.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Horror hosts have appeared on TV since 1954 when Vampira paved the way. Either riffing on whatever public domain film they were screening, honestly sharing overlooked classics, or just providing another voice to help keep us company in the long lonely late night hours spent on the couch. But they also commonly appeared in horror anthologies. These horror hosts were a little different, as they often provide a small "voice of god" narration, while also being the antagonist in their own short wrap around story. 

William Shatner appears in A Christmas Horror Story as a radio personality whose main role is to help tie all of the stories together. If you found it a strange casting choice or just aren't familiar with who William Shatner is or where he comes from, you'll soon realize it's really not that much of a stretch. There's also that little series of Full Moon releases he appeared in where he took the horror host role on in a more traditional manner.

William Shatner has always been pretty self-aware when it came to his later roles, so to think he didn't particularly enjoy horror films would be foolish. Here are some thoughts William shared with Fandango on horror...

On why horror works:
Shatner - "Horror is a really wonderfully dramatic venue for a story. It touches us on a very basic level because we're hardwired for the horror of the beast coming to eat us at night, or the will of the wisps behind a tree when we're in a cave. Horror is very basic to our nature. It's not an easy touch, but the writers and performers know the notes to hit to make that horror vibrate. We're all tuned to it. It's not like a laugh line where you fiddle with it and tweak it because you don't know if it's funny. Horror is horror. It just works. The little animal coming out of the chest in Alien, spurting out where everyone reacts with horror? That's the essence of a horror film."

On the horror movie he wrote but never made:
Shatner - "I wrote a horror film, but I never could get it off the ground. The basic premise was this: A hero from one of the wars comes back – it doesn't matter what he'd done, but the key moment is that he has a near-death experience and is on the emergency table and he has that experience where people talk about the white light and their parents appearing and saying, "Come here, my good boy." But he has the opposite. There are gargoyles and devils waiting for him to die. And he pulls himself back from that near-death experience and becomes afraid to die. So that hero, who was willing to die for his country and showed it innumerable times, suddenly has a fear of death and that's upon which the story is based."

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on 12/1/2016
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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