Horror Movie Marathon: Day 7 – Holidays

[SPOILER ALERT]     Holidays     [SPOILER ALERT]

holidays
“HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions, and assumptions.” IMDB

It’s day seven of the Horror Movie Marathon! It is chilly out and I am not feeling well. Lunch is in the oven as we start the movie, which is our first anthology-style selection.

Holidays is not rated and is available on Netflix. At the time of our viewing, it has the following online ratings:

IMDB 5.1/10

Metacritic 50/100

Rotten Tomatoes 52% critics, 24% audience

We both take notes throughout the movie. Today we’re trying something different. Instead of interviewing each other separately, we’ve conducted a simultaneous interview/discussion.


Mikey: Well, the obvious first question in an anthology is easy: What was the best story, and what was the worst?

Solee: That’s actually pretty tough… because I didn’t enjoy a lot of those stories. They were just soooo outside the realm of reality that I didn’t find them scary, and they weren’t really all that funny either, except in a “WTH am I watching” kind of way. I liked Christmas and New Year’s Eve best because they were more realistic but had good twists. I think Halloween is the lowest point in my opinion, but I was more confused than entertained by St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day. You?

Mikey: Boy, they were out of the realm of reality huh? These were some crazy stories, and I give points for originality, though a few were kind of expected.  I’ll tell you this fo sho: Father’s Day was hand’s down my favorite.  I did not like the ending of it, it left a lot unanswered and confusing, but until the ending, I had actual goosebumps. That was one of the most interesting and entertaining things I’ve ever watched.  Disappointing ending though.  

Solee: Agreed. That had a lot of potential that wasn’t realized.

Mikey: I think my least favorite is harder to pin down.  Probably Halloween is the least interesting. I felt the Kevin Smith to it (he directed that segment), with good dialogue and believable characters, but then the stuff that actually happened was both deeply disturbing and yet really pointless and dumb.  That’s approximately my expectation of his movie Tusk, which I haven’t seen and don’t intend to (but I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan prior to these modern days).

Solee: Yep. I love lots of Smith’s work, but his more recent stuff is definitely the work of someone who’s smoking pot all the time. And I wasn’t that impressed with the dialogue. Usually he is a master of the real back and forth that goes on between people, but this just felt stilted and fake to me.

So what is it about anthologies that you like so much?

Mikey: It’s just so fun! It’s like Fun Size Snickers for your eyeballs. (I actually snorted out loud reading this. Just so you know.) You know you don’t have to think too hard because each story will be over soon, so you just get a little taster of a bunch of different weird things (and weird is always what you get!). How do you feel about anthologies?

Solee: They are so hit or miss. It’s like reading a book of short stories. When done well, they’re amazing. But it’s so easy to fail. And some of these failed miserably.

Mikey: Ooh, that reminds me of my favorite anthology trick: the wrap-around! I wish we had that in this movie (I kind of thought New Year’s was going to turn out to be half a wrap-around, but it wasn’t).

Solee: That would have been cool. So can we go through them quickly? Talk about each one for a minute?

Mikey: Okay… they were in calendarological order.  We start with Valentine’s Day.  I have a question for you about this one.  Wait, I have two.  First of all, you were quite vexed when the mean girl tried to solve her stalker problem by just politely saying goodbye and taking a different path. So, Mrs. Smarty Pants: how would you solve the problem of someone creepily following you and stopping at a distance every time you turned?

Solee: No, no, no. My problem wasn’t with how she solved the problem. That’s a perfectly reasonable (if ineffective) way to get away from someone you don’t want to be around anymore. MY problem was with how she was trying to be all normal and innocent and “gosh, why are you being so creepy to little ol’ me?” when she knew perfectly well why Maxine was mad. I think the writers did a poor job of displaying her character in that scene. She’s a mouthy, little brat (for the sake of our younger readers). She would have yelled at Maxine to leave her alone, threatened her, whatever. She would NOT have been all meek and stupid.

Mikey: Okay okay… I agree, though I like how she started out being snotty to her and in the end just fell to basic civility as she failed to get any response. That felt real.  But speaking of how Maxine is mad (in the hatter sense), you also had an alternate ending for this story that I thought was a lot more interesting. Tell our audience!

Solee: I think she should have left the mean girl out there in the woods to be found with a brain injury. Mean girl’s parents decide to donate her organs and Coach ends up getting her heart. Maxine thinks all has worked out for the best… Mean Girl is gone and she’s managed to get Dear Coach what he needs. Final scene… Maxine is on the diving board and Coach yells up, “C’mon, you can do it. Just jump… Maxi-pad.” Look of horror on Maxine’s face. And cut to black.

Mikey: Four stars!

Solee: Ok. Enough about this surprisingly (compared to the rest) basic story. In St. Patrick’s Day, we are treated to a totally different style. At what point did you realize that this story wasn’t taking place in a reasonable universe?

Mikey: Well, I knew that when it was in a horror anthology. The girl was creepy right off and clearly evil (I figured she’d turn out to be a leprechaun in some way).  Do you mean reasonable for reality or reasonable in the sense that this short is insane?

Solee: Yeah. That one. Things got NUTS.

Mikey: Oh I know when! This seemed like a really grim, depressing story, kind of typical horror movie style, right up until the teacher went to a doctor about her pregnancy and the doctor said “You know that movie Rosemary’s Baby? What you have is like that, but it’s Rosemary’s reptile.”

Solee: THAT DOCTOR!!

Mikey: I don’t know if it was horror-comedy, or just totally insane horror.

Solee: I got the feeling that the girl and her father, whether Leprechauns or Magic Pagans or whatever, were part of a plot to repopulate Ireland with “snakes” which were, as the super creepy video the class watched said, metaphors for something – in this case a weird snake-person hybrid. I dunno. It was way out there.

Mikey: Nothing weird about Danny Zuko hair on a snake.  That is actually the question I had jotted down to ask you about: there’s clearly metaphor here (especially since as you mentioned, they tell you so).  Do you think maybe this whole thing is not so much meant to literally be a snake-baby, but more like something about bringing paganism back to Ireland? The people at the end were clearly pagans of some sort!

Solee: Yes. That’s what I originally thought… but then the difference between the animal-headed people and the snake-baby made it seem like it was an actual snake-baby… and given some of the other stories in this anthology, I wouldn’t be surprised. I would have rated this one higher if they’d stuck to the metaphor.

Mikey: “The zoo called back”. What??  Anyway, I don’t want to think about that anymore, which is sad because up next is what I really don’t want to think about: Easter. Umm… I guess my question on this one is… PLEASE HELP ME.

Solee: Now, see, I actually liked this one better because I felt like it WAS a metaphor. Or some kind of social commentary on the blending of the religious and secular aspects of Easter. The kid at the beginning was SOOO scared. I’ve never seen a real child so amped up about a stupid adult lie. I felt like that was a pretty strong condemnation of the “horror” aspects of Christian Easter – murder/sacrifice, resurrection, etc – and the stupidity of trying to make it palatable with chocolate bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks.  

Mikey: Oh, definite metaphors! That was the cool thing here, the weird mashup that we saw. I don’t know what we’re supposed to think is “really” happening (I guess in a short story it doesn’t matter, you see what you see!), but it’s clear that what does happen is effectively the result of the crazy mixed message this girl has been given. It’s showing us her terrified imagination. Unfortunately for her, it seems to have become real.

Solee: One of my questions was going to be “Why is she so compliant about all of this!?” but now I’m thinking that’s part of it. Religion is the ultimate tool in compliance and parents are always using holidays as a form of coercion “If you don’t eat your veggies, the easter bunny won’t come!”. Were you weirded out by her lack of fight?

Mikey: No, I think it was authority, and she had been told to just go with it by her parents so she did. Get ‘em while they’re young!  I am curious as to what actually happened to her – I mean, she’s now the easter bunny? And Jesus?  I dunno.

Solee: Yeah. I dunno, either. And it was not interesting enough for me to care all that much. What about the Mothers’ Day story? Did that one grab your attention?

Mikey: It did! Which is a bad thing because it made me mad.  It was interesting throughout, which is why it was so frustrating when it ended. It ended at what I would call the end of the beginning. We were just getting somewhere and they had decided that was enough story.  That was awful, enough to make me say it was a really bad story even though if it were finished, I’d have found it a very good story.  

I think there’s a certain type of storyteller or filmmaker who thinks the purpose of horror is simply to shock somebody, and these are the kind of “stories” they give you. There’s lead-up, then a shocking final shot, and it’s done.  That’s not a story, that’s stupid.  And real horror fans know the difference.

Solee: Agreed. I really have very little to say about this one. I found it distasteful that a group of barren women thought it was okay to kidnap and rape another woman for their own benefit… but then that wasn’t even what happened. That would have been an actual plot — a horrible one — but still a plot. This was just… stupid. And why on earth didn’t the guy in that woman’s life (you know, the one who had to wear three condoms) try to find her when she went missing?

Mikey: That does seem pretty much like an oversight, although they commented on how she hadn’t gotten calls, so I dunno.

Solee: That’s what actually made me remember that there WAS someone who should have been calling.

Mikey: Well, let’s dump that in an open grave and move on to Father’s Day. I think I’ve covered most of my thoughts already! What are yours?

Solee: I loved the story telling device they used, having her father talk to child her and adult her at the same time. That was very clever and I’ve not seen it done before. The setting was eery and the story was actually pretty believable right up to the end. I had HIGH hopes for this one. And then it just gave up. Was it aliens? Terrible space monkeys?

Mikey: It’s funny because this is almost identical to the previous story: all this well-done setup, and then a shocking final image and fin.  But I loved this one.  The setup was so incredibly good, and it was more than setup – in this case, I’d say it was about 95% of the whole story. We just needed a bit of resolution to make it perfect.  So great, with that letdown, but not enough to let me down. Goosebumps, I tell you.

Solee: I believe you. I had two questions about this one… first, what do you think her mother would have told her, had she answered her call?

Mikey: I don’t know the answer to that at all, but I am willing to bet that they filmed a voice mail being left that had some explanation from her on it, and they cut it out to keep the mystery or some other nonsense.

Solee: BAD decision. The second thing was less of a question and more of an observation. I don’t know what the heck happened at the end, but I do know free will was a big part of it. That’s a pretty common theme in demon stories, isn’t it?

Mikey: Certainly in vampires! And others sometimes. That was part of the tantalizing hints in this story… why did she need free will?  Why did we see an alignment of planets out of the blue for a moment?  Who is “Him”?  So interesting, and yet we’ll never know.

Solee: Aliens!!

Mikey: Fine, aliens. The next one up is Halloween. You can’t blame this one on aliens!  What do you say?

Solee: I already said most of what I thought. It was disappointing. I expected more. I’m a little skeezed out by Smith casting his daughter as an internet porn star, but hey… Hollywoodland!

I enjoyed the use of cutesy emoticons and internet slang as the girls were getting their revenge. That seemed to up the horror of it all. But the story was blegh.

Mikey: Yes, this goes right in the box of horror that doesn’t interest me at all: there’s no twist, no surprise, just “wouldn’t it be awful if this happened?”  I guess it’s sort of the very unsurprising genre of revenge films.  Those can be sort of interesting, but mostly they’re just fantasy fulfillment, which is certainly where this was going.  And hey, speaking of that – this was a fantasy for girls to get revenge on misogyny.  We haven’t noted yet that this entire collection is very woman-centric.  Nearly every story is about a female character (and very few other characters), and about specific female issues.  You’re a chick broad dame, what’s up?

Solee: I did find that very interesting. Aside from the girls in Halloween getting their revenge, it wasn’t exactly building up women, but it was kind of cool to see so many female leads. And women are scary. They have all those unmentionable parts and they bleed intentionally. Terrifying!

Mikey: Wait, it’s intentional!?

Solee: Our bodies do it on purpose, I guess is what I’m trying to say. Or maybe it’s just something we all agreed to do to freak guys out. O.o

So let’s move on to the two stories I actually liked! Christmas. He gets This Year’s Hottest Toy for his kid through nefarious means. What did you think of how that worked out for him?

Mikey: This was a lot of fun. Straight up, it was a Twilight Zone episode. And Seth Green is always entertaining. I have no real complaints here, pretty good (and it actually had a twist and conclusion!).

Solee: My only problem was that the UVU was supposed to let “you see you” or “you be you” or something. Instead it seemed to start showing them the truth about their spouses. Did I miss something?

Mikey: That was a pretty blatant bit of bad writing. They were seeing something from their own heads (generally past mis-deeds… although from the perspective of the victim, so whatever, it was magic)… but they totally contradicted themselves: the kid sees fun-time Mars Explorer, hands it to his dad who sees naughty things, and then later the mom sees the dad’s imagery because he “forgot to log out”.  There’s no logging in and out, it very clearly goes straight from your brain to the screen! They just changed it mid-story. Dumb.

Solee: Yeah. Dumb. But if you forgive them that, it’s a pretty fun twisty story with shades of the Telltale Heart.  What about the twist in New Year’s Eve? Were you expecting that?

Mikey: I sure was expecting it.  When he said they were a 96% match, I was like “Oh, now why would they be a great match?”  This story reminded me a lot of the series I watched recently, DarkNet. It’s just a series of stories almost exactly like this one.  What did you think?

Solee: I loved that she was out-creeping the creeper.

Mikey: Women’s wish fulfillment!

Solee: Yep, this is a pretty “woman-power” plot. And the wife in Christmas is pretty tough, too. I guess it has more strong females than I thought.

Mikey: I go more terrifying than tough. But the husband wasn’t so great either!

Solee: My main note for this last story was, “Best serial killer story EVER!!” I haven’t seen that twist done before and I liked it. I wasn’t totally expecting it, either, so it was a fun surprise.

Mikey: It sounds like you would like DarkNet, check it out!  So on that note, is it possible for you to wrap up an overall rating for all that stuff mashed together?

Solee: I just don’t feel like there were enough good things to rate this very high. I’m going to give it a 2 out of 5 because there were a few good things and I can see some themes that weave throughout (a must for a good anthology, if you ask me), but mostly it was disappointing. I’d probably be happier doing laundry or dishes or something. You?

Mikey: How empowered!  I am gonna have to go higher, just because of how blown away I was by Father’s Day. I just can’t avoid giving that recognition even if there was a lot of weird fluff to this anthology (plus hey, it’s an anthology, bonus points for the silly fun of that).  Let’s call it 3 out of 5.

Solee: Fine. I’ll allow it. 🙂 See you tomorrow for a horror-comedy called The Voices. It has Ryan Reynolds!

Mikey: Dreamy!

*If you have comments to leave specifically for Mikey, you can see this same interview/discussion posted here, on his website.

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4 thoughts on “Horror Movie Marathon: Day 7 – Holidays

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