HOLIDAY HELL ***** USA 2019 Dir: Jeff Ferrell, Jeff Vigil, Jeremy Berg & David Burns. 100 mins
Christmas shopping with malice aforethought.
Our curiosity is piqued right from the off in this stunner by a need to know about the whole shop as the devilish curiosity of the film drags us inside for more…..a bit like the ‘Titty Twister’ in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’.
The plot is fairly similar to ‘Once Upon A Time In A Haunted House’ but is longer and even more enthralling in a shop where all the objects present can tell us a story……
All that matters is what YOU believe?
This film shows us a series of four unconnected stories that are full of fear and terror that will have you entranced with dark Christmas magic and will show you how stories are the most powerful form of magic that humans can ever possess. They make up an ensemble that passes its power onto to you dear viewer with dark and corrupted intent galore.
A story can indeed transcend death, but will you make it to the end?
This is a very capable ghost and blood filled horror film of the occult and it’s well set stories of disturbed and horrific and nicely warped vengeance are overflowing with dark depravity and many nice touches of black comedy.
No one piece of acting stands out in an evenly balanced and very accomplished cast of actors whose dialogue is exceptional. The musical score by Semih Tareen and the imaginative costumes and well textured special effects set up the atmosphere in each mini episode beautifully.
All four mini-episodes ooze deranged black humour to urge your attention toward them and when you buy this film you too will feel their powerful magical pull.
But will your soul and mind be quite the same when at Amelia’s bequest The Shopkeeper opens the Doors of Hell as follows:-
In Dollface, a strange but pretty little girl in a haunting mask stalks six naive and archetypal American teens who declare their house party to be “too shit!” so she livens up their night for them. The good teen acting complements the dark undertones well as you feel trapped in a closed set full of claustrophobic fears.
In The Hand That Rocks The Dreidel, after celebrating Kevin’s Hanukkah loving parents Mr & Mrs Cohen (Janet & Stan) are going away after leaving a strange new doll from Germany to amuse Kevin in darkly comical shades of a dangerous Home Alone. In a small series of grisly yet deserved murders natural and bloody justice is served by the doll after it is awakened by it’s young new owner.
In Christmas Carnage, Chris (Joel Murray is exceptional here) misses out on his promotion to Tom the go-getter and his young and overbearing wife Susan calls him a screw up, so the downtrodden and psychologically bullied Chris gives them a harsh dose of his own reality as he demonstrates what happens when the nice older Santa from the works Christmas party can’t take anymore. His heart is in the right place in this tragic story that casts a great feeling of impending doom laden jealous rage in a standard all-American setting.
Then we return to The Nevertold Casket Co. where the Shopkeeper oddly evades the story of the skull, so Amelia tells him her own neat little tale with a haunted twist and in the final chilling episode, Room To Let we discover that Amelia, Vinny’s little miracle daughter, is what happens when couples will stop at nothing to have children. IVF is more legal to be fair!.
Jenne Farm is a strange place in a strange ‘Desperationesque’ town in the country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas and where the atmosphere evoked is very Amityville with Stephen King type backing music that links us well back into the full story arc. Two black cats show us a place that is full of dark power and control as fear and impending death grip you with dark intensity and build you into a great finale that will rivet you and lead you nicely into a lovely disturbing Christmas tingle.
Amelia (Maegan Karimi-Naser), a mysterious daughter of the Moon, visited the Never Told Casket Co. for a Christmas gift for her beloved twin sister Ophelia and met the bizarre character of The Shopkeeper (played well by Jeffrey Combs), but why does he recognise Amelia and why do his stories get more intense and his intentions more perverse as the stories unfold?
There is multi layered interest aplenty here as this superb offering from Black Sunday Productions takes us to a gripping and twisted ending. Bask in the magical vengeance of dark witchcraft as a warped shopkeeper peddles his nefarious stories so they can live forever in his curious shop. This film builds up it’s pace into a nice horror fantasy film towards an ending that will leave you wanting more as Amelia finally finds Ophelia the present of her lifetimes.
Review by Nathan Sandiford