Holidays is an Original Take on the Anthology Film Holidays is an Original Take on the Anthology Film
The brilliant HOLIDAYS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival offering a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of... Holidays is an Original Take on the Anthology Film

HOLIDAYS posterThe brilliant HOLIDAYS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival offering a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time. A major collaboration of some of Hollywood’s most distinct voices, including Kevin Smith (Tusk), Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), Scott Stewart (Dark Skies), Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes), Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim), Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate) and Anthony Scott Burns (Darknet). The film is an A-typical approach to the well-tred anthology genre by playing against traditions and assumptions. In doing so, HOLIDAYS is a celebration of the horror on these special days.

VALENTINE’S DAY

ValentinesDay_Holidays

Maxine (Madeline Coghlan) is a crazy Bitch. We love Maxine.

– Written and Directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch
– Starring Madeline Coghlan, Savannah Johnell Kennick, and Rick Peters

The film starts off to a rip-roaring story in Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch’s opener.  When a well-meaning coach offers a gesture of kindness on Valentines Day, his overtures are more than equalled by an outcast in Maxine. You see, Maxine is bullied by her team mates during practice and, well, yeah. They definitely have it coming, and we even know it’s headed there. But what entertains in this typical storyline are the perfect story beats offered at just the right moment plussed with the euphoric stylistic flourishes pulling us into the mind of a teenage girl. Scary territory indeed. Certainly a great way kick things off.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY

– Written and Directed by Gary Shore
– Starring Ruth Bradley, Isolt McCaffrey, and Peter Campion

StPattysDay_HolidaysSo what would you expect a horror story about St. Patrick’s day would be about? Leprechauns? Banshees? Okay. Throw that all out the window and you have this defiantly original piece by Gary Shore. After accepting a cursed trinket from a creepier-than-hell student, Elizabeth (Ruth Bradley) discovers she is pregnant with a something not human. One of our favorite segments of the film, St. Patrick’s Day plays vigorously against expectation delivering a chilling story that recalls the The Wicker Man with a little Twilight Zone and The Omen thrown in. To talk about this slow burn piece anymore would be a disservice to how the story unfolds.  Evil, playful and mischievous, St. Patrick’s Day left us with a nice squirmy feeling in our cold, cold, heart.

EASTER

– Written and Directed by Nicholas McCarthy
– Starring Ava Acres, Petra Wright and Mark Steger

Easter, written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy has to be one of the most bonkers and disturbing horror stories we’ve seen in years.  A young girl (Ava Acres) questions the meaning of Easter while being put to bed by her mother (Petra Wright). With its murky origins, the death of Jesus, the inclusion of eggs , bunnies, chicks, candy, things are more than a little confusing. Given strict instructions to stay in bed, the young girl investigates when she hears noises early on Easter Sunday morning. What she finds invading her home even more disturbing and surreal than anything she could ever have imagined.  In fact, you could say that finding out more only adds to her confusion. One of the more surreal of the bunch, Easter plays on the childhood curiosity that we all had as we slept restlessly, waiting for the Easter bunny to arrive. McCarthy effortlessly taps into the innocent viewpoint of a child as things seem more and more absurd but just as believable.

MOTHER’S DAY

– Written and Directed by Sarah Adina Smith
– Starring Sophie Traub, Aleksa Palladino, Sheila Vand, Jennifer Lafleur, and Sonja Kinski

Mother’s Day, written and directed by the very capable Sarah Adina Smith is probably the most confounding of the segments.  To begin, the story is a little strange. Kate (Sophie Traub), who gets pregnant every time she has sex despite using multiple forms of birth control, is advised by her doctor to visit a fertility ceremony in the high desert. There is no clear explanation given as to why our protagonist would visit a ceremony for fertility if that is her very problem. Kate gets to the the desert, only to find way more than she bargained for. There is a lot to be enjoyed here.  The performances are all sufficiently creepy and very Rosemary’s Baby.  The problem is the bizarre disconnect as to why anyone in her situation would go there.  A slight line of dialogue would have fixed a tremendous amount of confusion.  Once at the retreat things go south, of course, and things get downright nasty.  While interesting, this short never reaches the closure or clarity of the other pieces.

FathersDay_HolidaysFATHER’S DAY

– Written and Directed by Anthony Scott Burns
– Starring Jocelin Donahue and Michael Gross

Carol (Jocelyn Donahue) lost her father at a very young age and mourns his loss daily. Father’s Day  rolls around again and with it, a mysterious and irresistible opportunity presents itself.  A package arrives on Carol’s doorstep that contains a vintage tape recorder, likely from her childhood. Carol presses the PLAY button on the tape recorder and hears her father’s recorded message to her.  He apologizes for not being in her life and says that, if she would like to see him again, she must “go to where they last played”, and “flip the tape over”. If she does so, he promises to guide her to his current whereabouts. As the story unfolds we hear the tape play in voice over, recounting the loss of time, Donahue conveys a weighty sadness as she portrays a girl in perpetual loss. The madness and mystery drive this poor girl as everything tells her she is on a dangers path and it is chilling. Haunting and filled with mourning and loss Father’s Day is an emotionally devastating mood piece whose effects linger long after the climax of the story.

HALLOWEEN

– Written and Directed by Kevin Smith
– Starring Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush, Harley Quinn Smith, Harley Morenstein, and Shelby Kemper

Going totally against expectation in delivering a horror story about the very holiday that celebrates it, Kevin Smith throws his hat in the ring with Halloween.  Three webcam girls (Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush, and Harley Quinn Smith) are living with their “employer” Ian (Harley Morenstein) and are less than happy with the conditions. Forced a little too far on one fateful Halloween night, the three decide to take matters into their own hands. Smith writes and directs this little story delivering the same deadpan dialogue and staging we have come to love from him. As the three girls begin to realize that they have far more power than they ever knew, the laughs and squirms are offers in equal amounts.  What is most appreciated about this segment is the a-typical approach to the story. Instead of trying to encapsulate THE scary holiday it is but a side note to the terrors happening in a single apartment.

Christmas_HolidaysCHRISTMAS

– Written and Directed by Scott Stewart
– Starring Seth Green and Clare Grant

Going for broad, farcical comedy and evil doings on the holiest of holidays, Christmas is a laugh out loud funny morality play. Pete (Seth Green) is sent off, on Christmas Eve no less, to grab the year’s hottest toy for his son, The uVu, virtual reality headset. Of course, Pete must do what a father must do to get the gadget and, when Christmas arrives, he tries the headset on for himself only to find that the toy is taunting him with visions of his misdeeds. Green is perfectly cast in this segment as the befuddled, frantic father trying to cover his tracks while discovering a lot more about those around him with this new toy that tells all. The pacing is breakneck as conflict after hilarious conflict piles on to Pete, pushing him to the brink of insanity. Hats off to Writer/Director Scott Stewart and his ability to maintain a dark sense of humor with a ferocious clip. This was certainly one of our favorite segments.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

– Written by Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kölsch
– Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer

Closing out this wonderful anthology pic is New Year’s Eve. Stars Lorenza Izzo and Andrew Bowen play a pair of lonely souls in search of love and a little bit more on the last night of the year.  Certainly a blind date to end all blind dates, what really makes this last segment work is the expert storytelling by writers Dennis Widmeyer and Kevin Kölsch paired with razor-sharp editing and direction.  The tone is far more serious than the segment that preceded it yet still disturbingly funny and suspenseful. You will be crumpled up or on the edge of your seat up until the last second. So much fun.

Holidays is one of the best horror films of 2016 so far.  Producer John Hegemony has pulled together a team of talented writers and directors and assembled what is easily one of the best anthology films in years.  They have managed to keep the proceedings free from a predictable rhythm, not even revealing what holiday is being skewed until the closing of the story. That is just one example, however, of why this pic works and the subtle ways in which it does. Keep your eyes peeled as Holidays prepares for nationwide release next Friday, April 22nd in theaters and VOD.  Holidays will be something you will want to celebrate all year long.

2016 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL SCREENINGS 

If you are still at Tribeca you can catch the movie after its premiere at the following venues.

  • April 15th at 1:15pm – Regal Battery Park Stadium #7 (102 N. End Ave, bet. Murray and Vesey St) – P&I SCR. 
  • April 15th at 11:30pm – Bowtie Cinemas Chelsea #8 (260 W. 23rd St, bet. 7th and 8th Ave)
  • April 18th at 1:15pm – Regal Battery Park Stadium #7 (102 N. End Ave, bet. Murray and Vesey St) – P&I SCR. 
  • April 22nd at 9:45pm – Bowtie Cinemas Chelsea #5 (260 W. 23rd St, bet. 7th and 8th Ave)
  • April 23rd at 11:30pm – Bowtie Cinemas Chelsea #8 (260 W. 23rd St, bet. 7th and 8th Ave)

For more information about HOLIDAYS, please go to http://holidaysanthology.com

Holidays (2016)
RATING: R  
Genre: Horror
Runtime: 1 hr. 42 mins.
Directed By: Anthony Scott Burns, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Kevin Kölsch, and Dennis Widmyer

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Norman Gidney

Norm(an) Gidney is a nearly lifelong horror fan. Beginning his love for the scare at the age of 5 by watching John Carpenter's Halloween, he set out on a quest to share his passion for all things spooky with the rest of the world.

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