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A Canadian made exercise in holiday horror, presenting four segments tied together by William Shatner as a DJ. It’s an almost movie, with many promising elements that never quite reach their full potential.

The Package
    A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY demonstrates the increasing popularity of Christmas themed horror cinema. It was one of several such films released in 2015, and the third of them to involve Krampus, the horned Christmas demon who is said to carry out Santa Claus’s dirty work (the other ‘15 Krampus films, for the record, are the SOV loaf KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING and the glossy Hollyweird product KRAMPUS).

The Story
     In a small town at Christmastime an elderly DJ regales his audience with Christmas tunes. Meanwhile…
     A group of teenagers investigate the interior of a building where some brutal murders occurred a year earlier. The teens find themselves trapped in the building’s basement, and their ringleader Molly becomes possessed. In this state she seduces one of her companions, but after the tryst is over she reverts back to her former self. It seems her deceased possessor, a female ghost, is looking to conceive the child she was prevented from birthing when she was alive, and using Molly as the vessel…
     A suburban family pays a holiday visit to the luxurious house of relatives who own a statuette of Krampus, the “vile enemy of Christmas.” When the sullen young Duncan breaks the statuette the family is thrown out. They end up wandering through a snowy forest, where Duncan is snatched, apparently by Krampus. His family members take refuge in a church, and decide to confess their sins. Krampus, however, isn’t dissuaded, and breaks in…
     A couple looking to find a Christmas tree in a forest lose sight of their young son Will. They find him hiding inside a hollowed-out tree. Upon arriving back home Will begins acting strangely, exhibiting an unnaturally robust appetite, attacking his father, spying on his mother showering and opening his presents far in advance of Christmas day. Will’s mother is contacted by an old man living nearby who claims her son is not actually her son--a fact confirmed by some internet research, in which she learns about demonic creatures who pose as human children. This doesn’t help the woman’s husband, who is killed and dismembered by Will…
     Santa Claus deals with what appears to be a zombie epidemic among his elves, who are transforming into cannibalistic killers. Things really get bad when Mrs. Claus becomes zombified, and Krampus turns up in time for a final twist that ties all these tales together--or tries to, at least…

The Direction
     There are some good concepts here. The idea of William Shatner as a Greek chorus DJ certainly has promise, as does the climactic Santa-Krampus mano-a-mano. Also interesting is the way the film interweaves its four segments rather than present them in the traditional manner (i.e. as four sequential mini-films), and the way in which it treats the wraparound segment, with William Shatner as a DJ who doesn’t introduce the segments (as is traditional in anthology films) so much as obliquely comment on them. Otherwise, however, the film is undistinguished.
     It suffers from a tacky synthesizer score and noisy brass stings accentuating the “shock” scenes. Shatner is engaging as always, but the performances are otherwise amateurish and histrionic.
     It also has a cheap look, evident in the production design (the depiction of the North Pole, as a massive office space, is especially unconvincing) and substandard CGI. Furthermore, the stories are all a bit too similar in look and incident: nightmarish forest walks, dwarfish mutants, creepy statues and Christian iconography are constants in a film that never lives up to its ambitions.

Vital Statistics

Copperheart Entertainment

Directors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
Producers: Emanuele “Manny” Danelon, David Hayter, Steven Hoban, Mark Smith
Screenplay: Jason Filiatrault, James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor, Pascal Trottier
Cinematography: Gavin Smith
Editing: Brett Sullivan
Cast: William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoe De Grand Maison, Alex Ozerov, Shannon Kook, Amy Forsyth, Jeff Clarke, Michelle Nolden, Adrian Holmes, Olunike Adeliyi, Orion John