Anthology Week Day 5: Holidays (2016)

Previous Days: Day 1: Cat's Eye
                          Day 2: From a Whisper to a Scream
                          Day 3: Zombieworld
                          Day 4: Monsterland 

Released by Vertical Entertainment

Release Date: Apr. 22nd, 2016

Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Seth Green, Harley Quinn Smith

Written by: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith
             Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer

Directed by: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer
                     Ellen Reid, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith. Sarah Adina Smith. Scott Stewart
                     Dennis Widmyer 

This is the third anthology film that I have reviewed in a row. It seemed, not too long ago, that the anthology film was going the way of the dinosaur. We had Trick ‘r Treat, but nothing big after that. The VHS films were kind of popular as were the ABCs of Death films, but there was no Creepshow or anything like that.

Now we are at three anthologies with another (Southbound) getting my attention lately. I guess these anthologies are good for unknown filmmakers, as is the case with a lot of these films, but Holidays has some semi-big names in horror directing. Scott Stewart, who gave us the underrated Legion and Priest, has a short, as well as Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch who gave us the vastly underrated Starry Eyes.

Each of the short films in Holidays are set around different holidays (duh):

Valentine's Day- Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes) 

Valentine’s Day tells the story of a girl who is in love with her swimming teacher. The girl is also bullied by a girl who is also in love the teacher. It took a little bit to get going, but this film is halfway decent. The look of the film reminds us of how late winter feels and the two girls are played very well. The film is predictable, however, very predictable. I saw the ending coming about two minutes into the short. I liked it to a certain and then it seemed like it was on autopilot. (**1/2) 

St. Patrick's Day- Gary Shore (Dracula Untold) 

Horrible. Just terrible. Now I do not know everything about the Irish culture, so this film may be something that they believe in. I am not trying to make fun of anything that anyone believes in. That being said: What the hell is this film and who is it for? I think a woman is cursed with having a snake for a baby. That’s it. The film is boring and goes nowhere. (1/2*)

Easter- Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) 

This is a nice play on the Easter holiday as well as the film The Santa Clause. A little girl is going to bed and her mother tells her that she is not allowed to look at the Easter Bunny when he gets to the house or bad things will happen. There is a lot of back and forth between the mother and the kid which takes up most of the run time, but when the ending comes it is a pretty good one. This film deals with tradition as well as kids not doing what they are told and suffering the consequences for it. (***)

Mothers' Day- Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim)

Like with St. Patrick’s Day: what the hell? A woman goes to a doctor because she gets pregnant every time she has sex, no matter what. The doctor sends the woman to a desert commune where woman who can’t have kids go and pray and dance for the ability to have a child. The story goes into some weird areas and I am not really sure what happens, but the story is told without much context and I was easily lost. Also the film seems to be shot mostly in close-ups so there is no telling what is going on. (1/2*)

Fathers' Day by Anthony Scott Burns (The Last Exorcism) 

After the turd that was Mother’s Day (can they ever get this right?) comes Father’s Day and it is one of the stand outs of the film. A young woman receives a double sided cassette tape and player in the mail. She turns the tape on and, to her surprise, is her father. Her father went missing years ago and she has been haunted by that. As she plays the tape, she finds that she will be able to find out the truth about her father if she just follows the instructions on the tape. This leads her on a scavenger hunt from beyond the grave. Sorry, I had to say it. Anyways, she does what she is told and I am not going to spoil it for you. This is an impressive film. As the woman goes on her journey, we are with every step of the way and it becomes nerve wracking towards the end. I love the father’s voice and just the idea that something that happened years ago can have an effect on something now. Not that way, but in the way that the father is leading her, but he is dead (or not). The short reminded me of the film’s Frequency with Dennis Quaid and Dej√° Vu with Denzel Washington. Both of those films dealt with the past leading the future by leading the past. It is the same here. You can hear the woman as a child on the tape. The woman knows something, but the filmmakers don’t give us the easy answer. This is my favorite out of all the shorts. Great all around. (****)

Halloween by Kevin Smith (Tusk) 

If you knew nothing about this short even you would be able to tell that this was directed by Kevin Smith. The film is about a man who runs a cam-girl website. He is trying to get new meat while his other girls are at home. He makes a deal over the phone with a girl and goes home to have sex with one of the girls. The three girls (there are three, I am terrible at recounting things) knock him out and he wakes up in a room with a computer screen in front of him. The girls have him tied up and wired so that if he doesn’t do what they say he will get zapped. I think that you can see where the story is going to go and it is a shame. Smith can not get away from the dick and fart jokes. He could have done something really cool with this holiday, yet he squanders it on some “torture porn” BS. Smith has fell so hard, but his fans keep bringing him back up. I wish that he would stop trying to do horror and get back to what he is good at, or rather, what he was good at. (1/2*)

Christmas by Scott Stewart (Dark Skies) 

Christmas Eve, a man (Seth Green) tries to get the year’s most popular toy: a VR headset. He gets to a store that is closing down. He looks through a window and sees a man buying the last VR thing. When the man exits the store, Seth Green tries to get the store owner to let him in. The store owner says the man has bought the last of the VR things and he locks the door. Green goes to barter with the man, but finds him lying on the ground, reaching for his heart pills (it is always heart pills, isn’t it?). Green decides that he is going to steal the VR thing from the man and let him die. The rest of the story is pretty predictable, but it is an entertaining ride. The film is well made and has a decent mix of horror and comedy. Way better than Halloween. (***)

New Year's by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate)

The last film is a good one. A serial killer puts his profile on a Tinder-like app. He gets matched up and goes to meet the girl. You know, this is a hard one to talk about because anything I say will give the story away. What I will say is: I knew the twist as soon as something happens, but it didn’t make my enjoyment of the film suffer. I found this film to be well made and funny. I had a really good time watching this and I think you will have the same. (***)

So those are the films that comprise Holidays. I really want to recommend the film based on Father’s Day, Christmas, and New Year’s, but I just can’t. The other films are really bad and I wouldn’t want someone to have to sit through so much bad to get to the good. It is on Netflix so you can find the timecodes for the shorts that you want to watch and just watch those. I will say this though: Anthologies need to get a lot better if they want to keep getting made.

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