Low-budget horror anthology films are surprisingly more hit than miss. What makes anthology films more successful than other low-budget films is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is a combination of variables that make them seem more entertaining. Whatever that quality is, A Christmas Horror Story continues the trend with a very solid holiday-themed horror extravaganza.
This anthology piece follows 4 tales wrapped around a jaded, incompetent radio show host played by William Shatner. The four tales intertwine and take place all at once. In no particular order the stories follow a morally-bare family being hunted by Krampus, a couple who finds their boy replaced with a troll, Santa forced into a battle against zombie-elves, and a group of teenagers are locked away in their school's basement where a ghost haunts the halls.
The balancing act of telling all four stories at once was effectively executed, or dare I say, flawlessly. The stories themselves weren't perfect, but the transition from one scene to the next, flowing in and out of each story, was never confusing nor ill-timed. The director worked you through each scene, only cutting to the next story when it made sense to do so. It was like transitioning to commercial breaks, but the breaks were just more horror stories.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the tales, though if I were to designate one of them as the weak link, I would concede the ghost story. While it contains the most intrigue as far as having a mystery to be solved, it is the only one that feels like it's dragging. The other tales progress at a committed pace that the ghost story doesn't quite keep up with. Having said that, I appreciate the change of pace, despite it feeling disconnected from the other three.
The effects are hit or miss, but surprisingly effective for most of the runtime. The Krampus take feels more like a Marvel supervillain henchman than a grotesque doppelganger of Santa Claus. I preferred the masterful interpretation from the horror comedy Krampus. But, there is something to be said for this take, as a beefy monster that takes swift vengeance on the sinful.
The twist ending was awesome, but nothing tops the Shatner montage that runs while the credits roll. It was a great to finish off a horror anthology that had just the right balance of lighthearted humor and legitimate scares.