TFF2016: Holidays

          Horror anthologies are “in” right now, and while I welcome the trend—Creepshow and Trick ‘R Treat are among my all time favorites—the results can be maddeningly uneven, especially with multiple directors on-board.  Happily, the seasonally themed Holidays has a much higher level of quality than most—and some are utterly terrific.

            Things kick off nicely with Valentine’s Day, a high school slice of life in which a shy girl (Madeleine Coghlan) stands up to her tormentor (Savannah Kennick).  St. Patrick’s Day, from Irish director Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), is one of the most inspired offerings.  It’s best to keep the twists a surprise, but suffice it to say that the alternately disturbing and whimsical segment involves a schoolteacher (Ruth Bradley) and her odd red-haired student (Isolt McCaffrey).  Then comes the sucker punch of Easter, in which director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) mashes up the religious and secular icons of the holiday to perversely nightmarish effect.  I am not ashamed to say that this story scared the crap out of me and made me scream out loud, so be warned.  Mother’s Day offers a patently bizarre gloss on motherhood—perhaps owing to the perspective of female director Sarah Adina Smith.  The eerie Father’s Day is another of the highlights, with a sterling performance by horror stalwart Jocelin Donhaue (House of the Devil) essentially on her own for the duration.  The movie finishes on an entertaining note with two campy entries reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt: Christmas, a virtual reality-themed tale with Seth Green, and New Year’s Eve, a schlocky romp turning romantic conventions on their head. 

            I’ve left out the third-to-last tale, Halloween, for good reason: it’s pure garbage.  Kevin Smith’s “feminine empowerment” story is low brow adolescent smut of the worst kind, and it besmirches an otherwise solid film.  If you need to use the bathroom, feel free to do so during this chapter.  But rest assured the rest of Holidays delivers the goods.

Holidays screens as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.  More info: tribecafilm.com/festival

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on April 16, 2016