Thursday, April 21, 2016

HOLIDAYS (Vertical Entertainment VOD) - A Year of Holiday Horror Worth Celebrating

The Horror anthology is popular right now. It has taken many forms with a focus on any number of adjoining subject matters (or Also popular is holiday Horror, mostly Christmas and Halloween, but we’ve seen nearly all the holidays represented in some terrifying form for better or worse. The newest entry into both subsets is Holidays from Vertical Entertainment. We have a Holiday Horror anthology picture without cohesive glue ie no wraparound story to speak of. The filmmakers are a famous bunch which doesn’t actually guarantee success when it comes to the portmanteau set. In this case however I’m glad to report that we are blessed with some original stories that balk at many of the previous holiday Horror efforts and try to expand the subgenre while keeping it creepy. Let’s walk through each story briefly.

General notes: The production value is high for each story. In between each story is a card stating the holiday for the story that precedes it. It’s a nice touch. It’s no wrap story, but at least they didn’t go for a shitty wrap story that would have sucked the life out of the strong individual entries.

Valentine’s Day - This is a clever story directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, our fearless beloved creators of occult Horror masterpiece Starry Eyes. I Love the “dream sequences” and the 80’s feeling they inspire later in the movie. This is ultimately a funny one with a sort of anti-moral.

St. Patrick’s Day - This one comes to you from director Gary Shore of Dracula Untold fame. While I was not a fan of Dracula Untold, his entry in this anthology is truly a breath of fresh air. It’s a somewhat long winded but eerie tale that becomes hard to follow at times but ultimately conveys a unique story for the holiday. All of that sounds like negative feedback, but here’s the reason I love what Shore did; it wasn’t a damn Leprechaun rip off! Shore told a tale that involved the Pagan origins of an Irish day (that goes beyond the Saint in the name St. Patrick’s Day). St. Paddys Horror seems so limited. You can watch Leprechaun or you can watch Rawhead Rex. This breaks the mold.

Easter - Nicholas McCarthy directed The Pact and At The Devil’s Door; neither movie strikes me as a favorite,but McCarthy is a competent filmmaker. For how much I’ve disliked McCarthy’s previous work this entry ended up being my favorite installment of the bunch. It’s an effects driven short with a classic religion vs. Easter bunny mythology spin. You end up with the really real story of what that damn basket toting bunny is all about. SPOILER COMING (sort of ) You end up with a giant Easter bunny/jesus hybrid; one that will scare marshmallow out of your peeps. It’s creepy and well designed. I can’t get it out of my head. I think next spring I’m gonna set some bunny traps. (end sort of Spoiler section)

Mother’s Day - Sarah Adina Smith directs this different take on Mother’s Day that focuses on the of becoming mother. Ultimately it turns into another pagan ritual that is a far cry from the Troma classic backwoods slasher we have come to love by the same name. I’m still trying to figure out if I like this one. Smith doesn’t have much Horror in her filmmaking background, but her work is beautiful. The Midnight Swim is one I’ve been looking forward to checking out.

Father’s Day - Director Anthony Scott Burns has some anthology experience under his belt having directed an episode of Darknet. I’ll tell you that somehow this damn thing got me teary eyed. Such a sad, depressing little short. I was ready to write a review about a story that I loved that had an emotional effect on me that seldom happens while reviewing Horror. It happened during The Mist. Then the end happened and it pretty much fucked up all the short had built up. I suppose that’s the point, right? Still, I was ready to love it and now, not.

Halloween - They gave the short with the most to prove to Kevin Smith. It’s a tall order handling the Halloween segment of a holiday Horror anthology. Everyone expects it to be fantastic and everyone KNOWS what it’s going to be about even before they set their peepers on it. This is not a Halloween story at all which is almost refreshing given the fact that Halloween is the only obvious holiday to associate with Horror. There’s an element of torture porn and humor, but it also has a definite moral code. And you thought the only movies that could handle a car battery were Sleepaway Camp II and Silent Night Deadly Night 2.

Christmas - Scott Stewart… so this is the motherfucker who gave us Dark Skies. That was a great flick. This one involves a virtual reality gift that has a twist. The whole thing is kind of sexy and funny and violent. It feels like a Twilight Zone or a Tales from the Darkside episode. Seth Green stars and does a fantastic job selling it. The perfect gift is the gift of self exploration, even when you’re exploring your own grave.

New Year's Eve - Adam Egypt Mortimer previously directed Some Kind of Hate which was a damn difficult movie to watch especially as someone who was bullied as a kid. This one is more cut and dry with a blind date that goes… unexpectedly good before it goes horribly wrong. There’s a nice twist, some lighthearted blood and gore on the screen. Both Lorenza Izzo and Andrew Bowen give strong performances and sell it, making this a rather good way to end the anthology.

I enjoyed all segments at least in part and felt that as whole, it felt stylistically consistent. That really helps with an anthology and why the best portmanteaus are those from a time before anthologies were simply slammed together, unrelated shorts. It’s got a movie for every season and I like that the stories go in order throughout the year.

Holidays is currently available on VOD and limited theatrical. Make sure to keep your eyes open for a DVD (and hopefully Blu-ray) in the near future. This is one to see and enjoy. Let’s get a sequel on this one STAT with some of the more obscure holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day or maybe… ARBOR DAY (think Treevenge without Christmas).

***Note: I refuse to use the shitty poster that is currently being put during marketing. The poster that I used above is the only one to associate with this film. It’s perfect! Accept no substitutes***

From Vertical Entertainment

A collaboration of some of Hollywood’s most distinct voices, the directors include Kevin Smith (Tusk), Gary Shore (Dracula Unbound), Scott Stewart(Dark Skies), Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes), Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim), Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate), and Anthony Scott Burns (Darknet).  The film will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 4/14, hit VOD 4/15 and U.S. theaters Aprl 22nd.

Vertical Entertainment and XYZ Films have partnered to acquire the global distribution of the horror anthology HOLIDAYS, which was produced by John Hegeman’s Distant Corners Entertainment in association with XYZ Films. The film will have its world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival on April 14th. The companies will coordinate a global day-and-date release, which will begin the next day on April 15th with worldwide digital and VOD platforms followed by a targeted U.S. theatrical release on April 22nd. This will be one of the first global launches of a day-and-date independent film campaign following a festival world premiere.

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time. The film challenges our folklore, traditions and assumptions, making HOLIDAYS a celebration of the horror on those same special days’ year after year. A collaboration of some of Hollywood’s most distinct voices, the directors include Kevin Smith (Tusk), Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), Scott Stewart (Dark Skies), Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes), Sarah Adina Smith (TheMidnight Swim), Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate) and Anthony Scott Burns (Darknet).

“This has been a project that we’ve been excited about since it was announced in production. With the expansive list of amazing filmmakers, their unique take on the horror anthology genre, and in addition to the recent Tribeca premiere announcement we found ourselves with an amazing opportunity to get involved on a global basis” said Rich Goldberg, Vertical’s Co-President. “We have an extremely tight window to get the film out to audiences in April, but we have a dedicated team here at Vertical as well as with our partners XYZ and Distant Corners, what I believe will be the first film available globally immediately after its festival premiere.”

“We’re targeting our core audience directly on a worldwide basis,” said XYZ. “It’s a new distribution model that fits this film perfectly. We’re lucky to have forward-thinking filmmakers and partners that are up for breaking the mold.”

“It’s so exciting to have Vertical be proactive and jump on board.” adds HOLIDAYS producer John Hegeman, “I couldn’t think of better partners then them and XYZ to be taking advantage of this great opportunity. First the Tribeca acceptance, now this. This is fantastic.”

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