A CHRISTMAS HORROR ANTHOLOGY

0

SHOULD I? STATUS: Would Watch

Available on Netflix

Watch William Shatner return to his roots in this surprising holiday anthology.

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • Moderate jump scares, moderate-high CGI
  • Surprisingly large cast in this expansive, multi-genre collection
  • Blackdel: Y / Bechdel: N

THOTS

Join William Shatner as the appealing “Dangerous Dan,” a local radio station DJ, as he broadcasts his way through Christmas in annual tradition. While Dan drinks, opines, and keeps those classics coming, A Christmas Horror Anthology cycles through four concurrent small-town tales. Basically, the film provides a peep into several lives, as their stories progress over 12 hours or so from Christmas Eve into Christmas. Admittedly, it doesn’t help to consider this construct too hard: it’s difficult to believe anyone with a kid would wait until Christmas Eve to obtain a tree; maybe less so, yet still specious, imagining that 3 teenagers would use the day to finish a school project. Surely, they’re on holiday. But I speak this on removal. In the movie universe, small errors such as these are easy to gloss over. They don’t impair the film.

Many of the horror anthologies I’ve seen have stories which are barely, if at all, interrelated: V/H/S, V/H/S 2, The ABCs of Death 1 (and 2?), Holidays, and The Theatre Bizarre are all evidence. Sometimes there’s a frame narrative to explain this; sometimes there isn’t. When there is, the strength of that narrative tends to vary. A Christmas Anthology provides a pleasant variance from these traits. Including the frame, the movie presents five related narratives using a small-town, everyone-knows-everyone herringbone weave. It gives the collection a very “jes’ folks” feel I enjoyed.

It’s always fun with anthologies to try to kind of crunch some numbers and see if there are any common themes or genres or sort of general bents among the stories. In this film’s established universe, everyone is deeply flawed. Even happy endings have a cost. This seems to imply that, when bad things happen to people, they tend to deserve it – except for the frame tale, which ponders the randomness of fate’s pain. It’s fun to look a little too deep like this. Just keep a little skepticism about planning and intent.

If you’re going to watch a holiday horror movie, A Christmas Horror Anthology’s a pleasant use of your time.

Advertisements

PONTYPOOL

1

Pontypool is available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime right now. I started it on Netflix but had to switch to Amazon 1/3 of the way in because my Netflix likes to constantly time out during weird hours – my theory is Comcast’s throttling. Anyway.

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • Status: Definitely Recommend
  • Stars: 8/10
  • Horror Category: Virus; Zombies (kind of); Government Conspiracy
  • Low on Jumps and Cheap Tricks, Low on Gore, Low on Monsters
  • High Originality

THOTS

Somehow, somewhere, I’d read before that Pontypool was a good horror movie, so when I saw it on Netflix at 1 in the morning and realized it was in their top 20 rated horror movies I figured I should finally give it a shot. I was very pleasantly surprised, and ultimately pretty satisfied, with the film as a whole.

Pontypool demonstrates its strengths right out of the gate. Within the first 30 minutes, it’s clear that the movie’s set-up is both complex, and believable: our 3 main characters are all employees of a small-time Canadian radio station, and our primary character is a shock jock who, it seems, was fired from his previous big-time gig and is on his first day at the job in a regional station that he clearly thinks lands somewhere below his ability and grade. This is all relayed over time, accumulated through dialogue that manages to never come across as overly or obviously expository, or even clumsy, which I find to be a very solid indication of overall script (and usually plot) quality. The seeds of our horror mystery are planted when the station’s satellite air-and-traffic reporter frantically conveys his live, eye-witness account of a violent and disturbing mob tearing apart a medical clinic less than 5 km from the broadcasting station.

Unfortunately, I admit the movie falls apart a little as it approaches the end. Pontypool falls victim to a not-unsurprising turn of imperfect storytelling (despite said story’s overall quality generally surpassing the mass-market horror crud of today/everyday): basically, the script creators clearly had a very detailed and well-realized initial idea which, during the first act, they were able to convey subtly and with grace. However, once they got about halfway or 2/3s in the story, their reasoning got a little lost.

As a result, we get an interesting virus with an almost-incomprehensible and certainly belief-stretching method of contagion, and the discovered “cure” or at least countermeasure is not only difficult to follow but leaves the audience a little disappointed. However, all in all, it’s a movie, it’s a horror movie on top of that, what I’d say is we’re basically doing way better than okay for the standard fare of the genre.

So, Pontypool? Totally watch it. It will keep you hooked to the screen, not only due to quality acting and script, but out of interest and wondering what comes next – that originality which is so often lacking in mass horror. 8/10, would recommend.