thirty one days of horror

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October 1st, yesterday: *Gerald’s Game.* Quite good for a movie with about three actors, and a Netflix original. I heartily recommend. Having read the book years ago, I was intrigued to see how Netflix dealt with a plot which spent about 75% of its time on one woman trapped in one room with just her thoughts. I’m happy to report that the movie manages this brilliantly. The story is remarkably fast-paced and engaging when you consider this limitation; ignoring it, the movie exists as an impressive, cohesive, and yes, lingeringly terrifying tale of horror. – 2017; Netflix


October 2: 1) *The Reapening.* Biblical plagues and overly religious Southern towns. Pretty good, but the twist isn’t that surprising. Do recommend. – 2007; Hilary Swank; Netflix

2) *The Bar* – Spanish language horror comedy. Pacing is good, plot is twistingly interesting, and I enjoy the classic capsule episode feel. Sci-fi-esque and gov-conspiracy-lite, too. – 2017; Netflix

 

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A CHRISTMAS HORROR ANTHOLOGY

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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.