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Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan
William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer
James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor and Pascal Trottier

Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.
Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $29.97
Release Date: 11/24/2015

• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


A Christmas Horror Story [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 22, 2015)

Most Yuletide movies opt for warmth and/or whimsy. That’s not true for 2015’s A Christmas Horror Story, though, as it follows the promise found in its title.

Rather than tell one tale, Story digs into four separate narratives, all of which weave together. In one, three teens revisit the site of an unsolved brutal ritualistic murder that happened at their high school. They go there as part of an assignment to create a video documentary, but they encounter more than they expected.

A second piece focuses on a family that brings home a Christmas tree they illegally chop down on someone else’s property. After this, young son Will (Orion John) begins to act strangely.

For the third tale, a family visits an unpleasant but wealthy relative (Corinne Conley) in an attempt to wheedle their way into her will. This doesn’t go well – and involves the evil Christmas spirit Krampus (Rob Archer). Finally, Santa Claus (George Buza) battles undead elves.

We don’t get a lot of anthology films like this, and it’s hard to come up with many that made a dent in the popular consciousness. Pulp Fiction stands as the big kahuna of the genre, and the first Sin City did pretty well.

The horror genre seems best equipped for this style, and we’ve seen some memorable movies in that vein. Unfortunately, A Christmas Horror Story doesn’t join that list, as it becomes a slow, boring collection of tales.

I will give Story some credit for ambition. It attempts to connect the four pieces in a variety of ways and doesn’t take the usual path in which one episode follows another. With its interweaving narratives, the movie bites off more than one might expect.

Unfortunately, it’s still chewing those pieces. The decision to interconnect the four stories doesn’t work and feels gratuitous. The different narratives never really have anything to do with each other, so the film might as well present them one after another – the movie gains nothing via its interwoven structure.

Maybe better editing would help. As presented here, the stories boast no flow or smoothness. The movie simply hops from one segment to another without any clarity or momentum; while I won’t call the transitions clumsy, they don’t benefit the overall film.

That goes for the comments from DJ “Dangerous Dan” (William Shatner) that pop up occasionally throughout the movie. While it feels like Dan should act as a Greek chorus, instead he seems almost entirely unnecessary. Sure, the movie ties him in by the end, but even when this occurs, it creates no impact. The movie could lose Dan and not be worse for it.

Perhaps none of this would matter if the various tales provided entertainment. They don’t – each one offers general horror clichés, and not a single one really comes to life.

Some of that stems from running time. With less than 100 minutes at the film’s disposal, each tale doesn’t receive a lot of room to breathe, so the result becomes hamstrung in that way.

I can’t say I believe that Story would fare better even if the four segments enjoyed more space. They all seem so dull and perfunctory; extra time would probably just make them even less interesting.

Nothing about the production seems memorable. Everything smells a bit bargain basement, and even the inclusion of the redoubtable Shatner doesn’t help. Honestly, he seems bored and doesn’t even muster his usual level of delightful hamminess.

All of these factors leave A Christmas Horror Story as a fairly forgettable effort. I like the concept behind it but the end result flops.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

A Christmas Horror Story appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mostly appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness appeared good. A few slightly soft shots occasionally occurred, but they remained minor, so most of the flick offered pretty positive delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and I also noticed no edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, Story went with a variety of tones. Much of the film opted for a chilly teal, but we also got warmer hues at times as well as some heavy green overtones. All of these depended on the tales being told, and they suited the material.

Blacks appeared fairly full and dense, while low-light shots gave us mostly good clarity. Some shadows could seem a bit thick, but those elements usually worked fine. In general, I felt pleased with the transfer.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack accentuated the different stories. Most of the livelier moments related to the occasional action elements, and we got enough of those to fill out the spectrum reasonably well. Otherwise, the film emphasized quiet ambience and provided pretty positive integration.

Sound quality satisfied. Music was full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Speech came across as crisp and natural. The mix seemed to be satisfactory.

One bonus feature pops up: a behind the scenes featurette. It runs 14 minutes, 45 seconds and provides notes from producer/director Steven Hoban, directors Grant Harvey and Brett Sullivan, producer Mark Smith, and actors George Buza, Olunike Adeliyi, Zoé De Grand Maison, Amy Forsyth, Julian Richings and Adrian Holmes. We learn about the project’s roots and development, the work of the different directors, cast and performances, story/character areas, and makeup effects. The featurette throws out a few interesting nuggets but lacks depth.

The disc opens with ads for Odd Thomas and WolfCop. No trailer for Story shows up here.

Although the idea behind A Christmas Horror Story bears promose, the final product seems much less satisfying. Disjointed, slow and boring, the anthology never takes flight. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio as well as a minor featurette. There’s promise behind the premise but the final product becomes a disjointed snoozer.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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