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  Holidays Sinister Celebrations
Year: 2016
Director: Kevin Smith, Gary Shore, Scott Stewart, etc
Stars: Lorenza Izzo, Seth Green, Harley Quinn Smith, Mark Steger, Ruth Bradley, Jocelin Donahue, Ava Acres, Aleksa Palladino, Michael Gross, Clare Grant, Andrew Bowen, Harley Morenstein, Madeleine Coghlan, Scott Stewart, Ashley Greene, Jennifer Lafleur
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Here is a selection of short tales of horror with the theme of the holidays, taking place on a certain day commemorated each year. Valentine's Day tells the story of unrequited love, St Patrick's Day sees a dream unfortunately come true, Easter celebrates the Resurrection, Mother's Day concerns the state of pregnancy, Father's Day an absent parent, Halloween the modern equivalent of a witches' coven, Christmas the must-have present of the season, and New Year's Eve the need to be with someone at midnight. All these sections have a twist in the tale, twisted being the operative word, and presumably are suitable for watching all the year round, given they will always be close to at least one holiday...

Yet again there was another horror movie made up of an anthology delivered by a collection of writers and directors that happened along in the twenty-tens, as this format was fast becoming the most fashionable style in the genre for those wishing to make a mark. It was simple: just deliver a punchy plot with a memorable ending and wait for the audience to seek out your actual features, which with any luck would gain you a following, assuming you did not have one already which was the case with one of the talents here, Kevin Smith, who was turning quite the indie horror auteur, not that he had left his sense of humour behind in the process. His section would have been the hook to get the viewer to watch the others.

It certainly wouldn't have been the name Gary Shore, whose Dracula Untold was one of the most underwhelming chillers of its day - but what was this? His St Patrick's Day part was one of the most inventive here, detailing how a schoolteacher (Ruth Bradley of TV sci-fi Primeval, among others) who yearned to have a child of her own landed up cursed by a little pagan girl who ensures she falls pregnant with one of the snakes that has supposed to have been among those banished from Ireland by St Patrick all those centuries ago. It was a cheeky, imaginatively presented short that you would like to see Shore applying to his features in future, and actually raised more laughs than Smith's supposedly comic segment.

That had the owner of a sex webcam site suffer a taste of his own medicine as part of Smith's rather medieval view that criminals and victimisers didn't need help, they needed the most extreme punishment possible, which appeared to have clouded his judgement (why didn't he just cut the flex?), maybe in the rush to make his darling daughter Harley Quinn Smith a movie star. But those misgivings aside, there was no one story here that was a dud, it's just that some were more artistically successful than others, and with the variety on show there was always going to be disagreement on what was the best or, if not worst, then least effective. For some, Anthony Scott Burns' muted weirdness Father's Day was not going to hit the mark, and neither was Sarah Adina Smith's Mother's Day.

Meanwhile for others, the maternal unease of that latter would be quite satisfying, even if it was retelling Rosemary's Baby in record time with a pagan cult twist, only ramping up the dreamlike qualities. Elsewhere, Valentine's Day from Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer saw a bully get her comeuppance from a newly empowered victim thanks to an act of misplaced kindness: the second you saw the Carrie-esque set up, you knew it was going to end with the worm turning. Easter was divertingly blasphemous with a Christ Bunny, Christmas was taken care of with a gag about virtual reality that wouldn't look out of place in the pages of 2000 A.D., especially with that darkly humorous punchline, and to finish on we had confirmation that New Year's Eve really is the most miserable night of the year if you do not feel like being forced to have fun. This saw Eli Roth's better half Lorenza Izzo on a blind date with a loser, the reason for which becomes apparent in a goofy bit of splatstick from Adam Egypt Mortimer, not a bad way to end, certainly memorable and with nothing outstaying its welcome here, a decent enough portmanteau enjoying a better unifying thread running through it than some of its peers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Kevin Smith  (1970 - )

American writer-director, by turns self-indulgent and hilarious. His first film Clerks brought him cult success, but he followed it with the big studio flop Mallrats. Chasing Amy was a return to form, and Dogma courted religious controversy. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a tribute to the double act who appeared in every one of his films up until then (Silent Bob was played by Smith himself). Jersey Girl was a conventional romantic comedy that disappointed most of his fans.

Smith is also a writer of comic books, both established characters (Daredevil, Green Arrow) and his own creations. An attempt to turn Clerks into a cartoon series was a failure - but it was damn funny all the same. Fans of the characters could console themselves with the sequel Clerks II. He then offered sex comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno to mixed reviews, and Cop Out to downright terrible ones which led him to much public complaining. Self-proclaimed horror movie Red State, however, won him some of the best reactions of his career, though audiences were fewer in number.

 
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