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Tribeca Review: Horror Anthology ‘Holidays’ Directed By Kevin Smith, Gary Shore, Scott Stewart, And More

Tribeca Review: Horror Anthology 'Holidays' Directed By Kevin Smith, Gary Shore, Scott Stewart, And More

With the popularity of the “V/H/S” and “The ABCs of Death” series among others, horror anthologies have been trending lately. “Holidays” is yet another, coming with its own unique gimmick: each short film takes place during a celebrated holiday. Each entry exists separately from one another, and there isn’t a framing device, so I thought it would be best to review them one by one:

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Valentine’s Day”: A troubled teen in a high school diving team who gets bullied by her teammates finds a way to express her love to her hunky coach. This predictable effort is essentially a remake of the first ten minutes of “Carrie”, with a cartoonish lead performance that doesn’t believably convey the switches between menacing and scared. Writer/directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch’s 2014 feature “Starry Eyes,” unseen by me, earned a lot of respect from indie horror fans, but I don’t see the evidence for the buzz surrounding the filmmakers with this effort. [D]

St. Patrick’s Day”: A grade school teacher becomes pregnant after receiving a handmade toy snake as a St. Patrick’s Day gift from a creepy girl in her class. Writer/director Gary Shore (“Dracula Untold”) uses this simple premise to string together a series of random, batty surreal imagery, most of which seems clearly inspired by the original “The Wicker Man.” There is one delightfully insane sequence where the teacher uncontrollably sobs into a onesie in a store that almost makes the whole endeavor worthwhile, but unfortunately the rest doesn’t hold up. [D]

Easter”: Now this is more like it. Not only does “Easter” succinctly makes the point that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus might be taken as a creepy zombie story by some children, but it also finds a clever way to integrate the Christ figure into the completely unrelated Pagan symbols of eggs and bunnies in order to create a monster that deserves its own feature. The story, written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy (“At the Devil’s Door”), is about a girl who’s afraid that zombie Jesus or a giant bunny might visit her at night. What she gets is a bit of both, and that’s far from good news. “Easter” is a creepy, disgusting, delightfully sacrilegious treat. [B+]

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Mothers’ Day”: Another story about pregnancy, imagine the first segment of “Four Rooms,” about a coven of witches in search of sperm, add a completely unwarranted self-serious tone, throw in a random jump scare ending, and you get Sarah Adina Smith‘s “Mothers’ Day.” There’s almost nothing of note in this segment, that follows a woman who can’t stop getting pregnant and goes to a spiritual retreat for women who can’t have children. It has the visual appeal of a celebrity endorsed perfume commercial. [D]

Fathers’ Day”: Sometimes, less is more. A majority of  Anthony Scott Burns‘ “Fathers’ Day” consists of a young woman listening to directions the father she previously thought to be dead recorded so she can find him. The presence of an unlikely person on the tape gives the segment a haunting quality, seamlessly bridging the past and the present. So far, so good, but the simple yet profoundly effective build-up is undone by an uninspired payoff. [C-]

Halloween”: Writer/director Kevin Smith seems to have crammed Halloween into a story he already wrote, since his short has almost nothing to do with the holiday. It’s about an abusive pimp who refuses to let his girls out for Halloween night, so the girls take their sweet revenge on him. Featuring an unremarkable score, and annoyingly muggy performances from the entire cast, it’s a hard miss from Smith. [D]

Christmas”: Written and directed by Scott Stewart (“Legion,” “Priest”), “Christmas” has the morality tale set-up and playful sense of humor of a “Tales From The Crypt” episode, where a meek man named Pete (Seth Green) lets another man die just to get his hands on a popular VR toy for his son. Soon, the toy starts to show him the tragic results of his actions. Unfortunately, the story gets derailed by a goofy sub-plot about Pete’s wife and ends on an unsatisfying note. [C-]

New Year’s Eve”:  Adam Egypt Mortimer‘s generic slasher story has a twist that can be seen coming from a mile away, centering on a serial killer who murders women on New Year’s Eve. Just like “Halloween,” the holiday is unnecessarily shoehorned into this otherwise fairly standard slasher short. [D]

So, there you have it. Largely uninspired, “Holidays” only offers one truly compelling short from its eight entries (“Easter”), and otherwise struggles to meet even the lowest of expectations. “Holidays” is a very mixed bag and may not be worth sifting through everything to get to the good stuff. [D]

Browse through all our coverage of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival by clicking here.

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