On the face of it, a horror anthology based around various holidays seems like a particularly good idea. We loved Tales of Halloween and the idea of expanding that out to other holiday themes should be guaranteed gold.
Holidays is a 2016 portmanteau that hits each major holiday starting with Valentine’s Day and ending on New Year’s Eve. Each of the film’s eight sequences has a seperate writer and director and the film currently has a reasonably positive 52% score on Rotten Tomatoes (anything over 20% in film terms is usually okay as film reviewers are usually humourless dicks).
Here’s the thing. Holidays is shit. It is possibly the worst portmanteau we’ve seen, apart from The Monster Club maybe. The first mark against the film is that there is no linking story. We don’t care how thin the linking story is, but there has to be one. Also, Holidays bucks the current trend of stories referencing each other. Instead we have eight very separate stories, with just the holiday them linking them.
With that in mind, you may as well review them all individually.
*THE WHOLE MOVIE SPOILED FOR YOU AHEAD!*
This story’s main characters are Maxine (an awkward teenager), her swimming coach (who she loves) and Heidi. It starts with Maxine on a diving board, scared to jump, as the rest of the girls, led by Heidi, taunt her. Eventually Heidi pushes her off, leading to her almost drowning.
Coach Rick saves her, enhancing Maxine’s crush on him, and then has an argument (about Valentine’s Day) with his girlfriend on the phone. He then breaks every teaching protocol ever by sending his Valentine’s card to Maxine. A move which predictably backfires when Maxine follows Heidi after school.
Heidi tries to make light of it but is forced to confront the reality of the situation when Maxine pounces on her with a knife. The segment ends with Coach Rick at home, still arguing with his girlfriend. He answers his front door to find Maxine there, hands held out and holding Heidi’s heart as an offering to him. Worries!
The problem with this segment is that it is rubbish. The story makes some daft leaps (why would he send the card? Why was Heidi allowed all the way up the ladder to push Maxine off?) and the pay off is tame and not particularly interesting. It almost feels like a Saturday Night Live parody of Carrie but even shitter.
St Patrick’s Day
Elizabeth is a young teacher in Ireland who is having problems with a girl in her class. The girl is quiet and creepy. Elizabeth reaches out to her but seemingly gets nowhere.
That is until she finds a gift on her desk that mentions her deepest wish coming true. It does when she finds she is pregnant. Baffled as to how, she’s all a bit too confused to take on board the bad news. The doctors don’t know what the kid will be.
“If it’s a girl or a boy, that doesn’t matter to me.”
The problem is, they aren’t sure what species it is. Linking in with the St Patrick’s Day theme, it turns out the baby is a weird snake/human hybrid. Over the protracted pregnancy period (over a year), Elizabeth becomes more and more manic before eventually coaxing the baby out of her in a bathtub with a live mouse.
The film ends the creepy girl and a weird Irish bloke with a quiff claiming to be Danny Zuko (from Grease) discussing whether or not she’ll accept the baby. Elizabeth looks at the snake baby (which has lipstick and a quiff) and says it is beautiful.
The fuck is that all about?
Where the first story was weak, this one is just weird. The creepy girl has a bit of value from a slightly scary point of view but everything else was rubbish apart from the entire movie’s stand out line.
“Have you ever seen the Hollywood movie Rosemaries Baby? If you replace the word ‘baby’ with ‘reptile,’ that’s what you have. Rosemary’s Reptile.”
A young girl is excited because it is the night before Easter. Her mum tells her that she has to sleep so that the Easter Bunny can deliver the chocolate and that no child has ever seen him.
So when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she ends up seeing him and he’s a creepy bastard. A sort of cross between something you’d see in an Aphex Twin video and Pan in Pan’s Labyrinth (to be fair, this part’s make up effects are excellent).
He tells her that now that she has seen him, she’ll have to take his place which is quite an upsetting ending.
That’s pretty much the whole segment right there. It’s a little thin but it’s the first time the film as a whole isn’t absolute shit. That said, it’s a little tough to watch as the girl is quite sweet. If it has been the weird girl from the previous story, no one would have given a fuck.
Even so, this segment is alright.
Kate has a problem. Any time she has sex, she gets pregnant. No amount of contraception will stop it and when her doctor runs out of options, she tells her about a fertility group who might be able to help.
Unfortunately for her, the group is actual a coven of infertile witches who think it is taking the piss a bit for Kate to turn up with her pregnancy problem. They eventually drug her and it is implied that a big bloke who looks like Khal Drogo gets her pregnant.
She eventually attempts to escape but is too drugged, and pregnant, to make a proper go of it. The women get her to the ground where she gives birth. Not to a baby though. We see a fully grown man’s arm shoot out of her mimsy. Bad times.
Another shit story with a shit set up and a shit ending. You’re not impressing anyone, Holidays. Shite.
This story opens with Carol listening to a cassette tape that has been delivered to her. It turns out it is from her father who she believed was dead. He explains that he didn’t want to leave and that his friends will have delivered the tape when he is able to see her again.
He gives her directions to come and see him again. The route, through the sort of moody neighbourhoods that would have seen us turn back and go home, eventually brings her to an old building.
The sense of dread starts out feeling pretty strong but after a while Carol loses you. The idea that she’d follow a cassette tape into a derilict neighbourhood seems all a bit silly and when she gets there, what she finds is a cheap jump scare.
Father’s Day has an interesting premise but isn’t brilliantly executed and it probably deserves a stronger ending.
This segment is notable for being written and directed by Kevin Smith and it tells the story of Ian, a slob who runs an internet sex cam business from his home. We seem him at the start picking up discount candy while on the phone to a girl. She’s called him about working for her and he’s assuring her that he looks after his employees.
He’s lying though. When he gets home, the three girls there are miserable. He throws the cheap candy and them and tells them to keep working. They tell him no-one is in and that they want to go out for Halloween (the only reference to this particular holiday).
He refuses and instead decides that he’s going to have sex with one of them because he feels as though he owns them. The girls knock him out before things get too sadistic, thankfully.
Well… for them anyway. He wakes up in the cam room on a mattress. The girls have stuck a dildo up his arse and wired it to a car battery. They then turn the tables on him, making him debase himself for their amusement before setting the voltage to maximum in order to kill him.
Cheap production, cheap storytelling and cheap shocks. Halloween isn’t the worst segment on offer (because it at least has some sort of beginning and end) but it does seem as though Kevin Smith was pandering to the average Slipknot fan with this story. Definitely not his finest work.
Seth Green wins the award for most recognisable cast member in the whole film when he appears in this tale. He plays a father, Pete, who goes to pick up the year’s hottest xmas gift, a virtual reality headset, from a shop on Christmas Eve.
When he arrives to pick up the unit he has reserved, he finds that the shopkeeper has just sold it to another man. Pete asks the man to return it as he is desperate but the man isn’t interested and leaves.
However, he collapses just before he gets to his car. It turns out he’s having some sort of heart attack and has his medication in hand. Pete goes to help him but sees the VR unit there, and the insistant texts from his wife, and takes the unit, letting the man die in the process.
The next day he gives his son the present but has a go on it. The VR unit tunes into your own thoughts which isn’t great for Pete as it replays the events of the night before. Worse still, because he didn’t log out of it, his wife also sees what he did but instead of freaking out, she’s oddly happy about it.
Later in the story, Pete finds the unit again and sees that his wife has used it (and also not logged out). He puts it on and sees his wife kidnapping and murdering her boss. It turns out she’s a legit psychopath.
This story wasn’t too bad. The lack of an ending kind of works for it and the story at least has some sort of substance to it. Or maybe we’ve just watched too much of Black Mirror. Either way, it’s one of the better offerings here, even if it is very thin.
New Year’s Eve
Reggie is a troubled man who seems to have a penchant for killing young ladies that he meets on dates. After dispatching his latest victim, he agrees to meet Jean for a New Year’s Eve date.
The date is a little sketchy, given that they are both as uncomfortable as each other, but things progress and he ends up going back to her appartment afterwards.
A visit to her bathroom ends up being quite revealing when he realises that that’s where she stashes the body parts of all her previous dates. Their ensuing fight to the death is the predictable twist.
Again, this is a weak story, with no real delivery to it and an ending that doesn’t pay off.
Overall, this is probably the worst portmanteau that we’ve covered. There are glimpses of quality but they are rare and fleeting. A visual here, a line of dialogue there. The film is never scary, clever or funny enough. The overall theme is weak, even by horror anthology standards, and there are no standout segments that make the whole worthwhile.
We can’t recommend the film in the slightest but if they ever do a sequel, we think the overall idea has promise. Just give it to an entirely different set of writers and directors, please.