What’s your favorite holiday?
Holidays is an anthology film which, unlike many other anthology films, delivers on all of its stories. Eight tales. Eight directors. And eight reasons to make you dislike eight holidays.
The impression I get from this trailer is that this is a film made up of multiple different stories about different holidays. A girl swimmer in love with her coach on Valentine’s Day. Possibly a St. Patrick’s Day story. Christmas. New Year’s. Father’s Day. A great recap of all the Holidays for the end of this theme week.
Presented below is the trailer for the film.
An introverted highschool girl, Maxine (Madeleine Coghlan), is infatuated by her swimming coach (Rick Peters), and teased incessantly by the other mean girls led by Heidi (Savannah Kennick). The coach sees how the other girls treat Maxine and puts a Valentine’s card for her in her locker. Maxine imagines it’s signed “Love” Coach, and beams. The coach has an argument with his wife about having dinner on Friday due to a fundraiser that Heidi has set up to help him get a heart transplant. Maxine follows Heidi home, clubbing her with a brick in the woods. Maxine then pulls out a box cutter and gets to work on Heidi. Later Maxine shows up at the Coaches house, heart in hand (literally), smiling an infatuated smile.
“St. Patrick’s Day”
Elementary school teacher Elizabeth (Ruth Bradley) longs to have a child. New student Grainne (Isolt McCaffrey) is distant until asked to do a book report on her favorite story. After a drunken St. Patrick’s Day party in which Elizabeth awakens in the back of a car with a snakeskin, Grainne seems more accessible. The girl hugs her in a grocery store and smiles for her in class. Grainne’s book report is on a tale of the Lindworm, which confuses the teacher. Elizabeth sees a doctor, realizing something weird is going on. The doctor reports that she is going to give birth to a reptile. Nearly 400 days later she gives birth in her bathtub. A man with a black pompadour (Peter Campion) takes her to a celebration at an old tree, with people dressed in animal masks. He thinks that Elizabeth will be shocked by her offspring, but instead she loves it, and proceeds to dance with the cultists. The man tells Grainne, who is possibly his daughter, that they will bring more of the creatures into the world.
“You’re pregnant, we’re just not certain with what.” – Doctor “St. Patrick’s Day” segment
A young girl (Ava Acres) is being tucked into bed by her mother (Petra Wright) and expresses anxiety about Jesus returning to life. That idea scares her. She also wants to know more about the Easter Bunny and why it comes on the same day when Jesus is supposed to be resurrected. The mother can’t really explain any of it, other than Jesus was real and his coming back to life is a good thing. She also tells the girl that kids aren’t allowed to see the Easter Bunny. The girl awakes in the middle of the night to find a man (Mark Steger) that looks like Jesus, with stigmata on his hands and a wound on his side, but with a bunny shaped head. Baby chicks are popping out of the holes on his hands. He tells the girl that now that she’s seen him, she must replace him. He puts an egg in her mouth and utters a phrase. The short ends with the girl’s shadow morphing into a bunny shaped humanoid. The mother awakens to find her daughter missing.
Kate (Sophie Traub) is visiting with her doctor (Jennifer Lafleur) about getting her 20th abortion. Every time she has sex, even when her boyfriend is using multiple condoms, she gets pregnant. Kate’s doctor gives her the number of her sister and tells her to get in touch. They have a fertility ceremony in the desert, and may provide some insight. Kate visits the event, where the other women are all looking to conceive. She is drugged and included in a private ritual, where she is told she is a gateway. A man, possibly a spirit, comes to her that night. The sister and others, with the help of Kate’s doctor, keep her sedated for months until she is ready to give birth the following May. Kate comes out of the drug-induced stupor enough to call 911 but the stress is too much and she goes into labor. All the women are shocked as a full-sized, bloody arm emerges from Kate!
“Every time you end the life inside of you, it will come back stronger.” – Cultist “Mother’s Day” segment
Carol (Jocelin Donahue) has never known her father. Coming home from work one day she receives a package on her front porch with a tape recorder and cassette inside. It’s from her father, and his voice tells her that he’s sorry for leaving her, and how she should not blame herself. He would like to see her again and if she would as well, she should drive to the last place they hung out many years ago and put the tape back in. She arrives at the beach, and follows her father’s instructions. The tape, which also includes a young Carol’s voice, was recorded on the last day that Carol had seen him. Young Carol asks who he’s talking to, and he says ‘a friend.’ The instruction leads adult Carol to an abandoned building, and a door which she passes through. This takes her to another location (possibly another world) where she steps over a line of salt (or sand) to see a mysterious bald figure scream at her. The tape recorder drops to the ground as Carol and the mysterious figure vanish.
An entrepreneur, Ian (Harley Morenstein), takes calls from young women answering his ad. He explains that the job is not pornography, but web camers, like FaceTime. At the apartment that he rents, his existing “employees” complain about him and the job. Serena (Olivia Roush) is mistreated by a customer calling her a whore. Holly (Harley Quinn Smith) and Bree (Ashley Greene) try to comfort her. Ian returns and is upset that they aren’t working, but it’s Halloween and no one is calling. He decides to make use of Serena’s services, but Holly knocks him out with a toaster oven she is cleaning. When he awakes, he is nearly naked, with a wire running into his underwear. The girls have locked him in the webcam room, stuffed a vibrator up his butt, and super glued it shut. They force him to cut off his penis and turn the vibrator up to 10, presumably killing him. A girl from out of town rings the buzzer looking for Ian. The three women tell her that they are under new management.
“Make it Hollow, Ian” – Holly “Halloween” segment
Pete (Seth Green) is trying to get the last UVU virtual reality gaming goggles on Christmas Eve, but they are bought by another man (Shawn Parsons). The other man collapses as he’s about to get into his car and can’t reach his heart pills. Pete can either help or take the game system. He chooses the latter. His son is very happy to get the system, which shows everyone something different. Pete sees a submissive woman asking for him not to punish her. Shocked, but aroused, Pete continues using and starts seeing the point of view of the man he let die. He confesses what happened to his wife Sara (Clare Grant) when she sees part of his video after he failed to log out. She thinks that’s hot and they make love for the first time in a long time. Later Pete decides to put the glasses on after his wife used them. He see’s Sara drugging and killing her boss, who failed to give her a bonus this holiday.
A serial killer, Reggie (Andrew Bowen), who uses dating sites to get his victims, kills Mandy (Megan Duffy) after some awkward moments where he can’t load the gun properly. Jean (Lorenza Izzo) is a lonely woman that matches with Reggie on the dating app. They go out for dinner on New Year’s eve. He is an awkward and nervous date who doesn’t seem like Jean’s type, but they did match at 96%. She agrees to have him come back to her apartment where she grabs his crotch. He awkwardly backs away saying he needs to use the restroom, as Jean begins to get undressed. He was afraid Jean would find the chloroform in his pants, but instead he discovers vials of human body parts in her medicine cabinet (and an empty one with his name) and a partially dismembered body in her tub. She bursts through the door and attacks him with an axe, cutting off one of his feet. He makes it to the gun he left stashed in his jacket, but when he fires nothing happens–since he forgot to load it again. Jean places the axe squarely in his head and then dances to the New Year’s music on the television.
“Feliz año nuevo, cariño.” – Jean “New Year’s” segment
Unlike many other anthology horror films, Holidays does not rely on a frame sequence to set up the tales being told, which seems to work to its advantage. Instead it just presents the eight segments as stories to be told. The fact that there are also so many segments is odd as well. Anthology films like The House That Dripped Blood, Trick ‘r Treat, or Creepshow usually only present between three to five stories. The shorter segments here in Holidays seem to allow better and more concise stories, allowing them to get to the point (and the frights) quicker.
This is a solid horror film with each segment really providing an entirely different take on story lines, while keeping the tension and horror elevated. Having eight different directors also helps. The tone for each story is different, which allows for eight chances for the audience to find something that they like. For me, all the segments had something interesting about them, but the real standouts were “Easter,” “Mother’s Day,” and “Father’s Day.”
The “Easter” segment is just plain weird. Directed by Nicholas McCarthy, who is responsible for The Pact, At The Devil’s Door, and The Prodigy, is the most surreal of all the tales. It seems like a fever dream that the little girl might have had, mashing up Jesus’s crucifixion and the Easter Bunny lore. Her seeing the creature means that she must become one and continue the weird holiday is humorous but also unsettling.
“Mother’s Day” is a stand out being written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith. Dealing with women’s bodies and the cycle of life (which are similar themes to “St. Patrick’s Day”), I was glad to see that this was created by a female writer and director. The fact that Kate is some kind of super breeder and these women are looking to reincarnate a god of some kind makes for some creepy cult vibe. In fact “St. Patrick’s Day” and this segment both share pagan rituals that put them on a level with The Wicker Man and Midsommar.
“Father’s Day” is equally creepy but for an opposite reason. There’s only one character seen (we do hear Carol’s father on the tape), and the whole story unfolds as an audio drama. But the reason as to what really happened is completely up for debate. Carol’s dad recorded this entire conversation maybe 15-20 years ago, but how? Is he an alien? What’s with the circle of salt? Really creepy! And super ambiguous, which is always a plus in horror.
Thanks for joining 31 Days of Horror in looking at holiday horror films this week. I hope I didn’t ruin any of your celebrations. Next week we return to random films, with some more H-Origin films added.
- Ruth Bradley was also in a monster film called Grabbers, reviewed last year.
- Seth Green is no stranger to horror having played a werewolf in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as appearing in Idle Hands and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
- Jocelin Donahue appeared in The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, which will be reviewed later this year.
- Since 2011 comedic director Kevin Smith (“Halloween” segment) has turned towards horror with a variety of films, including the disturbing cult-horror film Red State, the body-horror film Tusk, and Yoga Hosers.
Having grown up on comics, television and film, “Jovial” Jay feels destined to host podcasts and write blogs related to the union of these nerdy pursuits. Among his other pursuits he administrates and edits stories at the two largest Star Wars fan sites on the ‘net (Rebelscum.com, TheForce.net), and co-hosts the Jedi Journals podcast over at the ForceCast network.