The horror genre seems to have never really been able to grasp the season of Saint Nicholas and create too many memorable films over the years.
There has been the odd exception with Black Christmas (potentially the first ever slasher) and Silent Night, Deadly Night proving that Christmas can be the perfect time for some scares.
Luckily the aptly titled ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ can sit amongst these films as a fine example suspense, fun and some gore thrown in for good measure.
We open on Christmas Eve at Santa’s castle, and our favourite saint appears to be have had a spot of bother getting things ready for the big night itself; rewind 12 hours and our story begins in the small town of Bailey Downs.
Our Narrator for the evening is Dangerous Dan (William Shatner) a Radio DJ with a big heart and potentially a big drinking problem.
From here we split into 4 seperate stories following two families, some students investigating a ritualistic killing which took place a year ago for an assignment and Santa’s trials and tribulations in which we can only guess is the North Pole.
Little do they all realise they all have a common enemy; Krampus.
Who is Krampus I hear you say? Well according to the Grimm fairytales the demon is the ‘Anti-Santa’ who hunts from sunrise to sunset kidnapping children who have been naughty, before chaining them up and killing them.
The most surprising aspect of ACHS is the pace which you would expect to be all over the shop, is expertly timed, giving us glimpses of the beast but it’s just over an hour into the film that you get a good glimpse of it in all its gruesome glory.
It would have been so easy to focus the film entirely around Krampus itself, but instead we get to see things from all 4 perspectives and how they’re dealing with the strange goings on in Bailey Downs as well as the North Pole.
It plays at times like a German expressionist horror with long tracking shots employed which the film a sense of dread as you’re not sure if and when Krampus will appear.
There’s also a chase scene which is straight out of Halloween’s finale, it’s a shameless homage but the makers of ACHS have clearly done their homework.
Just when you think you’ve figured out where the film is going, the final 15 minutes completely flips everything we knew on its head and makes for a rousing conclusion.
A smart, witty and stylish horror film; A Christmas Horror Story is definitely worth sharing a pack of mince pies over soon. Just make sure you’ve been good, or Krampus could come calling…..