PLOT: Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.
At first, I thought A Christmas Horror Story was an anthology of four separate stories in different locations, but after it was over, I realized that it was the same town, and some of the characters were in multiple stories. That interwoven storytelling surprised me, especially with the size of the production. It’s not the best Christmas horror movie, but it know what it wants to say and does it well. That is unusual for movies in both genre, and A Christmas Horror Story pulls it off a lot better than I was expecting, especially after the first 20 minutes.
The interweaving stories deal with the dark aspects of Christmas stories. One involves demons called Changelings, who kidnap and take over their bodies, the second one is zombies elves, the third one involves Krampus the Christmas devil, and the fourth one is an old haunted school for pregnant teenagers where last Christmas two people were killed, but it is how characters makes cameos in other stories that is impressive. The changeling one has the cop from the haunted school, and the film makes that pretty obvious. They even take it a step further and have the trauma he suffered in one effect a moment in the other. The other crossover character was between the Krampus and the haunted school, but she is in the latter for such a short amount of time that I didn’t make the connection until my post-movie IMDb research.
A Christmas Horror Story is at its best when it’s using the Christmas aesthetic, but invoking the dark spirits of that aesthetic. It is impressive for a smaller production, but you can see where a bit more budget would’ve helped this movie astronomically. If you only see it for one of the stories, make sure you watch the haunted school because Zoe De Grand Masion (Gracie from Orphan Black) she steals the entire segment, and really makes me want to watch Season 3 of Orphan Black.
Obviously, the haunted school is the only one that really has a traditional horror love story, as the three teens follow the cliché trope: The girl likes the one guy who has a girlfriend, and the nerdier guy likes the girl, but she doesn’t like him. This ends the only way possible with the girl becoming possessed by a demon and having sex with the nerd boy on a chair in the basement of the school so she could become pregnant with his baby — you know, as you do. (Oh, yeah, spoilers)
Almost every scene in A Christmas Horror Story, outside of the high school, has either traditional Christmas decorations or a more old European Christmas setting. The Christmas spirit is not all bright, colorful lights and singing of carols because the deep dark origins of the stories came from Europe, and involved Krampus, a different kind of Saint Nick and his companion, Black Peter. Whether it’s light or dark, it can still be full of Christmas-ness, and this film is. Also, Shatner plays an alcoholic radio DJ.
Christmas-ness Score: 5 out of 5
By the end of the film, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie’s quality, and as I said earlier, I was regretting my decision about 20 minutes into the film. But when the stores picked up momentum, it felt like an average, fun horror movie, which is a lot more than I was expecting. The end of the Santa slaying zombie elves story has a good twist that I didn’t even see coming. There may have been clues, but I must have missed them all. Either way, it was a good ending to a better-than-it-should-have-been movie.