The four stories in A Christmas Horror Story take place in the fictional town of Bailey Downs on Christmas Eve, perhaps a happy accidental nod to the George Bailey character in the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. They are woven together by Dangerous Dan, a local radio DJ played by William Shatner who works as a narrator of sorts for the film. This character is much like the Adrienne Barbeau character in another recent holiday horror anthology, Tales of Halloween.
Each story in A Christmas Horror Story seems to be created for true horror fans. They are dark and detailed with often brilliant color schemes that highlight both the classic feel of Santa Clause and the underlying evil of Krampus, both of whom play roles in the film.
The stories include a family looking for the perfect Christmas tree in a not so perfect place, a not so joyous Christmas spirit, a student documentary that turns Christmas Eve into a not so silent night, and a North Pole zombie fest full of not so friendly elves. The theme throughout the film is “not so”. These characters experience a not so merry Christmas, and it's not that they asked for it or wanted it, but they did unknowingly bring it upon themselves by making not so good decisions that underline the fragility and weakness of the human condition. These back stories and character flaws are introduced as each story unfolds and the characters find themselves in hellish and unimaginable scenarios. The film is well written and well made with a variety of horror stories that are as different from each other as Santa Clause is from Krampus. The cast in each segment all give solid performances and this is a major win for the film as it plays it's horror straight and not for laughs. One weak performance can throw off the believability or wreck the suspension of disbelief in such genre films.
I've heard this film referred to as a comedy-horror, but I found it to have a quite serious tone. Sure, Santa fighting zombie elves that speak insults like a possessed Regan from The Exorcist is amusing, but every aspect of these stories aren't played for laughs, they are played to frighten and thrill. And that is exactly what they do! A Christmas Horror Story manages to be a horror movie that is entertaining, full of surprises, has a strong focus on horror, and is a lot of fun! There are several strong moments that kept me thrilled and smiling including a bloodthirsty Elf using a tree as a battering ram to break down a door, a (not so) dead girl makes a startling first appearance, and an epic battle between Santa Claus and Krampus, the ultimate showdown of Good Vs. Evil!
I highly recommend this movie to every horror fan. Instead of the family, feel good movie or holiday slasher classic, watch something different and new this Christmas and check out A Christmas Horror Story and have a merry and gory and fright filled Christmas!