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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: Holiday Hell

Director: Jeremy Berg, David Burns, Jeff Ferrell, and Jeff Vigil
Screenplay: Jeff Ferrell and Jeff Vigil
Year: 2019

Horror anthologies keep on gaining popularity among creators and fanatics of horror cinema. As an example, this year alone I have reviewed four anthologies before this: “The Field Guide To Evil”, “Nightmare Cinema”, “Xenophobia”, and “An Hour To Kill”. This rise in the amount of horror anthologies comes propelled by the success of titles like “V/H/S”, “The ABCs of Death” and the classic “Trick ‘r Treat”, who are met by more recent titles like “The Field Guide To Evil” and “Nightmare Cinema” that shows horror movie fans still like them and there's still plenty to explore.

In “Holiday Hell” a young woman goes into a curious artifacts store looking for a gift for her sister. Each article in the store has a story and many of them share the fact that they have a violent ending. While the young woman is interested in some articles, the shopkeeper tells the dark tale of each one.

As what detaches from the name, “Holiday Hell” is a horror anthology in which its stories are inspired in celebrations. Valentine's Day, Hanukkah, Christmas and winter solstice are the scenery in which these macabre stories take place, each directed by a different director. The main story, where all others are born, takes place during the holiday season, putting the foundation for a themed horror movie.

The shopkeeper, interpreted by Jeffrey Combs (“Re-Animator”) starts telling his stories with Dollface, the only that is not centered in the holiday season. This story is based on a Valentine’s Day murder and a dangerous masked woman. Choosing this as the first story was a risky decision, as it is the weakest, with some shameful dialogues and dumb characters.

Luckily the next story, The Hand That Rocks The Dreidel, improves the situation. This story is centered around Hanukkah and has as a focal element a strange doll that simulates a Jewish rabbi. The following story, Christmas Carnage, as the title suggests is the most violent one. This story is based on Christmas when a man goes through some hard times in his work and marriage and decides to mix some pills with alcohol, which leads him to take matters into his own hands by inflicting wounds with hardware tools to anyone that has stepped on him.

The last story, Room to Let, takes place in the winter solstice. In it, a young woman looks for a place to live a find a room to rent in the house of a couple without kids, which plans go beyond just making an extra income with one of their rooms. This story serves both as the base for a twist at the ending of the movie that also results in a great ending for this anthology. 

If the viewer can stand the first story, that is with difference the weakest one, “Holiday Hell: is a fun holiday horror anthology. Some familiar faces, like that of Jeffrey Combs and Joel Murray (brother of Bill Murray), give it a bump in quality supported by the stories, although limited by the budget. “Holiday Hell” makes for a great horror movie to watch during Halloween season or during the Christmas season, where horror is a bit scarcer.

“Holiday Hell” will be available in selected theaters on October 11 and on digital platforms (Tubi) on October 15, 2019.

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