The revival of the horror anthology continues with Holidays, a wraparound-free compendium of shorts each based around a separate, well, holiday. Featuring segments from a range of notable directors, it can’t follow in the footsteps of recent triumphs like Tales of Halloween and Southbound, and instead mostly delivers pallid, pedestrian fare that feels wildly at odds with the impressive volume of talent involved.
It’s a film that never really gets too far out of first gear, and that tone is set from the very beginning. The opening short, written and directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (previously responsible for 2014’s stellar Starry Eyes) places its emphasis on Valentine’s Day, and juggles a cack-handed portrayal of high-school bullying with an equally uninspiring rumination on teenage obsession. Its final payoff (or lack thereof) feels oddly, blandly predictable, and it’s a glaringly disappointing contribution from the makers of one of 2014’s very best horror films.
Elsewhere, Nicholas McCarthy’s ‘Easter’ creature feature at least scores points for prosthetics, while Anthony Scott Burns’ ‘Father’s Day’ squanders the collection’s most interesting premise with a staggeringly lazy jump-scare conclusion, and in doing so provides Holidays with its most maddening, frustrating moment. The finest work here comes from Dracula Untold‘s Gary Shore, who’s ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ is a fresh and knowingly farcical spin on “demon baby” mythos. Meanwhile, the wooden spoon of the collection goes to relative veteran Kevin Smith. While many of the segments here don’t land like they should, his ‘Halloween’ offering commits far worse sins, feeling genuinely phoned-in by comparison to its counterparts.
There are bare bones of a few good ideas in Holidays, and the law of averages would suggest that there would be at least a handful of direct hits in the pack. Sadly, this isn’t the case, and as a committed performance from The Green Inferno‘s Lorenza Izzo fails to save Adam Egypt Mortimer’s concluding ‘New Year’s Eve’, this is a film that, at a time when the anthology is very much alive and kicking in the horror genre, simply isn’t good enough.