17th Apr2016

VOD Vault #4 – Krampus / Holidays

by Phil Wheat

Another Sunday and another installment of VOD Vault, taking a look at some of this weeks on-demand releases that have hit various VOD platforms here in the UK. This week we have a very seasonal edition, featuring two films that take a horrific look at the holidays…

KRAMPUS

krampus

Stars: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania Lavie Owen, Krista Stadler | Directed by Michael Dougherty

Krampus has seemingly become the de jour villain in the horror genre recently. We’ve already had two movies featuring the evil anti-Santa, Krampus: The Christmas Devil and Krampus: The Reckoning; and now comes a third. Although unlike its seasonal brethren, this Krampus at least made it into cinemas – and so it should have. This is the latest film from director Michael Dougherty, who exploded onto the UK horror scene a few years back when his Halloween anthology Trick ‘r’ Treat was screened at Frightfest. That film has gone on to be a staple of October horror viewing for genre fans (including me) but it’s taken sometime for Dougherty to mount his next feature as director, though to be fair he hasn’t been resting on his laurels – he’s one of the guys behind the forthcoming X-Men film, X-Men:Apocalypse.

Dougherty’s Krampus sees young Max, already becoming disillusioned by the festive season, turn his back on Christmas when his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

Killer jack-in-the-boxes, cannibalistic teddy bears, evil gnomes, demonic gingerbread men… think of any sweet Christmas tradition, make it evil, and you have the terrifying villians of Krampus; and that’s not even taking the titular character into account! Whilst it’s fun and frightening – for this IS a real scary movie, complete with a myriad of monsters large and small – this film is not on a par with Dougherty’s other holiday horror (perhaps because you never truly care about its cast as we did in Trick ‘r’ Treat), yet it’s still head and shoulders above the anti-Santa films that have come before it (though you should also check out A Christmas Horror Story for the best, short, krampus tale)

Krampus is available now on iTunes, the film hits DVD and Blu-ray on April 25th.

HOLIDAYS

holidays

Stars: Lorenza Izzo, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Ruth Bradley, Jocelin Donahue, Madaleine Coghlan, Ashley Greene | Directed by Kevin Smith, Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer

Given the resurgence in recent years, it would seem the horror anthology film, so prevalent in the 70s and early 80s, is officially back to stay. And that’s especially so of those films based around the holidays… Last year at Frightfest we had A Christmas Horror Story and Tales of Halloween and now, coming directo to VOD is the seasonal anthology feature Holidays, which puts a uniquely dark (very dark in a lot of cases) and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved days of the year.

Holidays begins with Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch’s Valentine’s Day, a high school tale of bullying and lust. Next up is Gary Shore’s St. Patrick’s Day, a psychedelic fable about a grade school teacher praying for her own pregnancy with eerie consequences. Nicholas McCarthy follows that with Easter, a twisted treat in which a mother and daughter discuss the strange dichotomy between the holiday’s two symbols: the Easter Bunny and Jesus Christ. Directed by Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim), fertility struggles are explored in Mothers’ Day. The short stars Sophie Traub as Kate, a woman who gets pregnant every time she has sex, no matter what contraceptives she uses! Next up is Fathers’ Day, led by House of the Devil‘s Jocelin Donahue and directed by Anthony Scott Burns. This story follows a woman named Carol who receives a strange cassette tape from the father she thought dead.

Moving into the latter half of the year, Halloween, written and directed by Kevin Smith, is a revenge story set in the world of webcam sex slavery. Director Scott Stewart then aims for a Black Mirror-esque chiller with Christmas, starring Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as a harried father who makes a very questionable decision in order to get his son the perfect festival gift. Rounding off a year of grizzly festive fun is New Year’s Eve, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate). It stars Lorenza Izzo as a quiet girl who unwittingly goes on the online date from hell…

One of the creepiest, freakiest and downright strangest anthology films I’ve seen since the days of the killer tree in Tales The Witness Madness, Holidays is filled with more inventiveness in its 105 minutes than many an anthology film, no scratch that, many ANY a horror movie; and as such should immediately go to the top of any genre fans must-see lists.

 Holidays is available on iTunes and We Are Colony now.

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