The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Horror movies have long looked to holidays for inspiration: Halloween, New Year's Evil and Black Christmas are just a few examples. The appropriately-titled horror anthology Holidays takes the concept a step further. Assembling a roster of hot indie horror directors (plus Kevin Smith), the film is comprised of multiple chapters, each running about fifteen minutes.

As with any anthology film, some sections are stronger than others. That's true here, too. The shorts range from dreadful to fantastic. Here's the breakdown.

Valentine's Day - Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes) kick things off with an effectively creepy story about a teenage girl with a crush on her adult male swimming coach. She's bullied by the other girls, who call her “Maxi Pad,” and after misinterpreting a gesture from the coach, she finds the power to do something about it. There's a nice bit of irony in the way this Carrie-esque tale ends.

St. Patrick's Day - Gary Shore (Dracula Untold) brings us this segment about a troubled teacher who becomes pregnant with a snake after a bizarre encounter with a student. (St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, by the way.) There's a lot going on here, and trying to cram it all into fifteen minutes isn't necessarily a good idea. St. Patrick's Day feels like the trailer for a really interesting horror movie. It's got a ton of promise, but would have been better off developed as a feature to maximize its full potential.

Easter - Nicholas McCarthy (At the Devil's Door) has one of the strongest installments with his tale of a little girl who gets up in the middle of the night and accidentally encounters a demonic Easter Bunny. Dark and brooding, this short has an inventive re-interpretation of a character more traditionally seen as cute and cuddly. Bonus points for a terrific scene between the child and her mother, as they discuss the oddity of using a rabbit to celebrate a holiday intended to recognize the resurrection of Jesus.

Mother's Day - Like St. Patrick's Day, this one has an intriguing premise that it doesn't quite get total mileage from. Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim) crafts a feminist horror yarn about a young woman who becomes pregnant every time she has sex. To seek answers for why this happens, she attends some kind of weird pagan drug ceremony in the desert. There's a provocative abortion-related theme here that would pay off better with some expansion. The director should totally turn this into a full-length feature.

Father's Day - Anthony Scott Burns (visual effects artist on The Last Exorcism Part II) delivers the best segment in Holidays. It's about a young woman who discovers that the father she grew up thinking was dead is actually still alive. He sends her a tape recorder with instructions on how to find him. Much of the segment is her walking and listening to his voice eerily guiding her. (Michael Gross is brilliant as that voice.) Burns establishes a tone of menace and dread that steadily increases right up to the shocking conclusion.

Halloween - In contrast, the worst installment comes from Kevin Smith. Between this, Red State, and Tusk, it's clear he doesn't understand how horror works. Aside from having almost nothing to do with Halloween – a clear violation of the movie's entire premise – the story is one-note. Three sex cam girls (one played by Smith's daughter Harley Quinn, which is kind of icky when you think about it) exact a hideous revenge upon their misogynist boss. The result is repetitive, with a dull payoff and an overabundance of the director's misguided belief that graphic sex talk is the same as actual wit.

Christmas - Seth Green stars in this darkly comic shaggy-dog story from Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest) He plays a father desperate to get the hottest virtual reality device for his son as a Christmas present. He literally takes one from a man who has a heart attack in a store parking lot. Once home, it becomes clear that the device knows what he did. Green is really funny here, and every repercussion of his character's action is unexpected. Christmas doesn't amount to much, but it's a hoot anyway.

New Year's - The movie wraps up with this bit of nastiness from Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate). On the night of December 31, a psycho killer goes on a blind date with a woman who may be more demented than he is. Stylishly crafted with a clever incorporation of the Times Square ball-drop, this tale provides a satisfying conclusion to the project.

Holidays has one story that's a dud, two that are okay but would have been better longer, and five that are solid. That's more than enough for a recommendation.

( out of four)

Holidays is unrated, but contains language, sexual content, and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.

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