So since I’m me, I took the time during this Octave of Christmas to watch “Holidays,” a horror anthology in which every tale takes place on some sort of celebratory day. It’s surprisingly good!
The thing that makes the movie so powerful (esp its first half), I think, is that most of the directors/writers took the time to ask what each holiday is actually about. What are the underlying emotions called up by each day–the longings, beliefs, fears, dreams to which each holiday responds? And then they went and made horror flicks about those things. A quick rundown:
Valentine’s Day: Story is fairly standard tale of bullied girl in love with her PE teacher/swim coach. She’s just a fool for love! (shiver) What made this piece stand out was its look. It’s all sharp, unexpected cuts and intense color. Very very enjoyable. And by the people who did Starry Eyes, which should be an enticement.
St Patrick’s Day: Whaaaaaaat did I just watch?! This is a super tale of paganism in actual Ireland, like, it is in fact about St Patrick vs the snakes, as played out in the life of a contemporary schoolteacher with a very strange problem. The ending is a bit cute–it needs to balance on the edge of weird love/horrifying violation, and I think it sways too far into the first thing–but this was a great idea.
Easter: Starts off with a ferocious promise to actually explore the Jesus/fairy tale/zombie tale thing. Why isn’t the Resurrection horrifying? Will Daddy ever come back? Is the Easter Bunny… you know… real? Doesn’t totally live up to this strong premise but it’s a sharp twist on the idea that parents tell their children comforting versions of the truth.
Mother’s Day: Probably the strongest concept. A woman who has had countless abortions because she gets pregnant every time she has sex is sent by her doctor to a hippy-dippy “fertility ceremony” for women who suffer from infertility. We don’t control our bodies or our futures, and that’s heartbreaking–and it divides people, as women turn against one another, how dare you reject something I’d kill for. One side here is overly villainized–they should be a lot more parallel, since both abuse their power in an agonized response to their powerlessness–and the final twist is dumb. But this is a wrenching little thing.
Father’s Day: About absence and a lack of answers, because men can leave. Spooky but maybe a bit slight.
Halloween: Porn camgirls torture their pimp. Literally, find out how long this short is and skip it when it comes up. It is Kevin Smith and I wanted to give him a chance but it’s repulsive both morally and aesthetically. I think it is supposed to be shock humor? Generally for that it helps to be funny. People throw around the term “torture porn” and I think if that term means anything it should mean gleeful, self-righteous reveling in a character’s dehumanization, pain, and degradation. The fact that the abuse is “deserved” as punishment makes the thing worse, not better.
Also, I cannot emphasize this strongly enough, this short has nothing to do with Halloween! The holiday exists for some candy gags and a pun so gross and stupid it will leave you feeling soiled.
Whenever I remember that I watched this I basically get all Wanda yelling at Otto about how the London Underground is not a political movement. This was a mistake, Kevin!
Christmas: This is okay. It’s a tale of greed and going too far.
New Year’s Eve: Serial killer on a date. Not great, but plays intriguingly with the whole New Year’s resolution/making a fresh start idea.
So. I found out about this movie from the Deadly Doll and the good parts were genuinely unsettling. I really like the way MOST of these filmmakers thought about why they were making a holiday film in the first place. I agree w/the Doll that I’d watch a longer version of “Mother’s Day,” and would add “St. Patrick’s Day.”