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Christmas Horror Story, A

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Grant Harvey
Steven Hoban
Brett Sullivan
William Shatner
George Buza
Zoé De Grand Maison
Adrian Holmes
Amy Forsyth
Bottom Line: 

Christmastime is Krampus time! At least that’s what the last few years have shown me! From Dwight Schrute’s Christmas reminisces on The Office and the American Dad episode “Minstrel Christmas” to countless mentions in literature, TV shows, and films poking fun at the Germanic folk legend, Krampus has had a comeback to rival John Travolta! Now, with a much-hyped, big-budget eponymously titled film currently doing gangbuster business at the box-office, it’d be easy to overlook the OTHER Krampus-themed horror flick – A Christmas Horror Story –  that’s quietly been released this month, and that'd be a damned shame!

A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology tale consisting of four tangentially related stories – three of which are set on the same Christmas Eve in the small town of Bailey Downs where, the year prior, a gruesome double-murder at a local school cast a dark shadow over the holiday season.

The first story tells the tale of Molly (Zoé De Grand Maison), a high school student doing a report on the aforementioned murders, who, along with her friends Dylan (Shannon Kook) and Ben (Alex Ozerov), break into the school to “report” from the actual crime scene. Aided with keys to the building by their friend, Caprice (Amy Forsythe), the trio venture into the basement where the bodies of the victims were found, but soon discover they’re locked in, and forced to spend Christmas Eve with the ghosts of the school’s past.

Caprice, who was meant to join Molly and the others, is instead forced to go on a family trip to visit her wealthy Aunt Edda (Corinne Conley), who from Caprice’s father hopes to procure an investment in his failing business venture. While there, however, Caprice’s ill-mannered younger brother, Duncan (Percy Hynes White), raises the ire of Edda’s caretaker, Gerhardt (Julian Richings), when Duncan intentionally breaks an antique Krampus figurine. Edda sends the family packing, but they’re soon run off the road and hunted down by Krampus, himself.

The third story involves Scott (Adrian Holmes), one of the police officers who responded to the previous year’s murder and, as a result, has been dealing with a case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Hoping to reconnect with his wife Kim (Oluniké Adeliyi) and their young son, Will (Orion John), Scott takes his family into the woods onto private property owned by “Big” Earl (Alan C. Peterson) to cut down their own tree. While leaving the woods, however, Will wanders off, and, when they find him again, there’s something very different about their son.

The fourth tale actually takes place at the North Pole, where Santa (George Buza) is preparing for Christmas Eve when his elves suddenly come down with a virus that turns them into undead killing machines that Santa is convinced is the work of Krampus!

Meanwhile, a wraparound story featuring William Shatner as a Bailey Downs’ D.J. Dangerous Dan, serves as the glue to hold it all together.

I have to say that I had really low expectations going into A Christmas Horror Story, but, man, was I ever pleasantly surprised. This low-budged Canadian feature has some truly impressive production values, excellent special effects work (including some great practical make-up FX work used to make its Krampus), and solid performances all around. It’s a surprisingly gory and occasionally quite scary little flick, that’s made even more suspenseful by the way it’s edited together, with the stories weaving and out of each other, cutting from one to the next during crucial moments, rather than just presenting them in a specific order in their entirety.

RLJ Entertainment and Image bring A Christmas Horror Story to Blu-ray in an absolutely beautiful 1080p 1.85:1 transfer that is packed with gorgeous detail, and sports a wonderfully vivid and crisp image. The accompanying 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is rich and full, and expertly mixed stuff that will have your viewing room rumbling with thunderous lows and shimmering crystalline highs.

Bonus are sadly scant, and include a short behind-the-scenes featurette (HD), as well as trailers for other Image releases (HD).

A Christmas Horror Story is definitely one I’ll be revisiting come holiday time, and joins the ranks of excellent holiday anthology fare like Trick ‘r Treat and the recent Tales of Halloween as solid examples of the genre done right. Image’s Blu-ray presentation is absolute perfection, even if they did skimp a bit in terms of extras. Still, this is must-see Christmas viewing for horror fans! 

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