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Holidays is a horror anthology that presents eight short stories, each based on a holiday and adding some kind of supernatural/horror twist. Each tale is written and directed by different filmmakers with somewhat mixed resluts.

The first is Valentines Day, written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes) and tells the story of  introverted high school girl Maxine (Madeleine Coghlan) who has a crush on her swimming coach (Rick Peters). When she misinterprets a sympathetic Valentine’s Day card from him, she decides to solve her bullying problem and present her object of affection with a special gift, all at the same time. It is an effective story with some very gruesome moments and has a bit of that offbeat, disturbing feel that made Starry Eyes work so well.

Next up is St. Patrick’s Day written and directed by Gary Shore (Dracula Untold). This tells the story of a new little girl (Isolt McCaffrey) at school who gives her teacher (Ruth Bradley) a St. Patrick’s Day wish with disturbing results. This episodes starts out creepy enough, but gets progressively silly till it’s goofy ending.

Next up is Easter written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact). This tells a really weird and disturbing tale of a little girl (Ava Acres) who accidentally catches the Easter Bunny (Mark Steger) in the act…but he’s not quite what she expected and there is a disturbing price for being the first child to ever see him. This is a weird episode that unsettlingly combines both the Christian doctrine and traditional bunny folklore of Easter. While not totally successful, it gets extra points for being daring enough to ‘go there’.

The next tale is written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith and is called Mother’s Day. It’s an odd story about a woman (Sophie Traub) who is ‘cursed’ by getting pregnant every time she has sex. She is sent to, of all places, a fertility clinic, to solve her problem, one which turns out to be more than it seems. This episode was really strange, yet a bit unsatisfying as it didn’t seem to go anywhere and had a predictable and cliché shock ending.

Father’s Day is one of the best tales. It is written and directed by FX man Anthony Scott Burns (FX for The Last Exorcism Part II). It tells of a young woman (House of the Devil’s Jocelin Donahue) who receives a recorded message from her long dead father, asking her to meet him at a special place from her childhood. This is a very effective episode that is moody, creepy and heartbreaking, thanks in equal parts to good direction and a very strong performance by Donahue.

The biggest disappointment and worst episode is Kevin Smith’s Halloween. It takes place on Halloween, but has little to do with the holiday as it tells the story of Ian (Harley Mortenstein) the mean owner of a Sex Cam business who has a painful rebellion from three of his employees (Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush and Harley Quinn Smith). It forgoes any attempt at something spooky for more of Smith’s traditional adolescent vulgarity. Boring, crude and has nothing to do with the holiday it represents.

Anthology get’s back on track with Scott Stewart’s (Dark SkiesChristmas. This one tells the tale of a down-on-his-luck dad (Seth Green) who goes to disturbing lengths to get his kid the pair of virtual reality glasses he wants. These glasses, however, reveal a person’s true self and he and his wife (Clare Grant) learn some very unsettling things about each other. This is a fun and chilling episode and Green is entertaining to watch as the desperate dad and Clare Grant is good as the wife with a secret side to her.

Final episode is New Year’s and is is directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind Of Hate) from a script by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch. It tells the story of a serial killer (Andrew Bowen) who has specific plans for his New Year’s Eve date (Lorenza Izzo) who turns out to have far more in common with him than he realizes. This is a twisted and fun episode with a really entertaining psycho  turn by Izzo as Jean. Izzo is showning a talent for these roles, as she was one of the few fun parts of Knock Knock.

Overall, this was a mixed bag, but the good outweighed the bad. There were a few disappointments, especially from Kevin Smith who dropped the ball on delivering something in the Halloween spirit for his tale. We did gets some spooky and effective stories, with the standout being Burn’s Father’s Day which had a sympathetic and strong portrayal from Jocelin Donahue. Definitely worth a watch for the segments that did work and even a couple of the failures had an originality to their telling.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating




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If you took Shaun Of The Dead and put it in a blender with the 1990 classic Tremors you’d get Grabbers, a fun British horror/comedy about the citizens of a remote island off the cost of Ireland pitted against slimy, tentacled space monsters. The story begins with a fishing vessel witnessing a meteorite crashing in the sea. A short while later, the crew is killed by something big and tentacled while off the coast of the Irish island of Erin. Meanwhile on Erin, Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle), the local Garda (the national police of the Republic of Ireland), is dealing with a new temporary partner, the by-the-book Lisa Nolan (cutie Ruth Bradley) who doesn’t approve of O’Shea’s drinking problem. The two have bigger issues to deal with, though as dead whales wash up on shore, a mysterious creature is captured by a local fisherman and citizens start disappearing. Soon they realize that their peaceful little island is under siege by mysterious tentacled creatures who are laying eggs all over the place and are protected by a massive and very vicious alpha male. The island is a perfect habitat for the monsters, though they do have a very interesting weakness, considering this is Ireland after all. Now can these two lone cops somehow keep the villagers safe and survive the evening long enough to realize that they have fallen for each other despite their differences?

The answer to that is a lot of fun finding out as director Jon Wright (no relation to Edgar as far as I can tell) has a good time with Kevin Lehane’s derivative but fun script. And that’s the key… we recognize the obvious inspirations and have seen it all before, but we cut it some slack as it’s a lot of fun. One of the reasons is the film is populated with a lot of colorful characters brought to life by a fine Irish cast. Coyle and Bradley have a nice chemistry and work well together and to be honest, they make a cute couple. The eccentric characters around them also blend very well such as local drunk Paddy (Lalor Roddy) and resident scientist, the stuffy Dr. Smith (a homage to Lost In Space’s infamous doctor perhaps?). Another reason is we get some well executed and effectively slimy critters in our CGI Grabbers. They are basically all tentacles and teeth and those are two combinations that effectively chill when it comes to a movie beastie and their level of menace helps propel the story as does some decent but not overdone gore. Wright also gets the tone for this kind of thing down perfectly. He never takes his subject too seriously, but never lets it get too silly, so as not to make a joke out of it. There are proper amounts of humor and horror blended evenly, much like the two previously mentioned films it evokes. That is the way to making a film like this work. If you are going to evoke the work of others, lay your homages out in the open and have a good time with it. The audience will have fun and let you slide that you are presenting them with a mash-up of stuff they’ve seen before.

Grabbers is a fun, fast paced movie with a charming cast and a nice mix of laughs and thrills. Nothing original, but it’s not trying to be… it just wants to recreate the fun of it’s influences and on that level, it works. Entertaining and unlike the recently reviewed Cockneys vs Zombies, Grabbers isn’t an imitation, but a cinematic hug to the movies that entertained it’s makers, in it’s own style. And that’s the difference between homage and rip-off.

3 tentacled Grabbers!

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