With a high demand for the nostalgic titles of yesteryear, Holiday Hell endeavors to follow in the footsteps of heavy-hitters of the genre like Creepshow, and Tales from the Crypt. But does the film pull off the many complexities of the format as expertly as its predecessors?
It’s Christmas Eve and a young woman in desperate need of a last-minute gift enters a strange and unusual shop, it’s here that she hopes to put an end to her holiday hunt. But things will take a turn for the macabre when a mysterious shopkeeper takes her on a tour of frightful tales for each of her potential selections; each set during a distinct holiday.
Helmed by directors by Jeremy Berg, David Burns, Jeff Ferrell, and Jeff Vigil, Holiday Hell delivers a well-executed, format abiding, entry to the genre of holiday terrors. But anthology horror is a tricky sack of toys to pull off successfully. The film which stars Joel Murray, Jeff Bryan Davis, Lisa Coronado, and Meagan Karimi-Nase, offers up some compelling performances and colorful concepts but it fails to capture the audience in a visceral way; lacking the thrill and utterly bonkers creativity that is fondly remembered from our old pal the Crypt Keeper, or the Coronor from Body Bags. However, a particular highlight in the film’s portfolio is the frightfully fun Jeffrey Combs, as he delights viewers in full Vincent Price drag as the peculiar store owner; conducting the action between tales. Anthologies of this nature are entirely incumbent upon a captivating host to keep that sense of ghastly fun and thrill alive, and Combs does not disappoint; camping up his scenes with spooky vigor as he provides an engaging reprieve between some of the weaker shorts in the lineup.
While most of the stories in the film are repurposed narratives that we’ve been exposed to a million times before, I must commend the filmmakers for striving to include non-Christmas entries, such as the particularly strong Hanukkah horror story, which finds a thieving babysitter on the bad side of a nightmarish Rabbi doll out for blood.
It’s not one to rush downstairs for on Christmas morning, but if you do venture to view Holiday Hell, I would recommend pairing it up as the appetizer in a double feature gathering.
|Runtime:||1 hr 40 Mins|