Genre : Horror-Comedy
Country : United States
Director: Rebekah and David Ian McKendry
Few film communities are as misunderstood as the horror community. Despite its popularity and box office success it continues to be viewed poorly. A shame because it is probably the most loyal of fandoms in film. All year long there are conventions and film festivals dedicated to the macabre. More than any other genre horror can really feel like a family. One big , blood soaked family. And this is no truer than with Rebekah and David Ian McKendry.
For more than a decade this husband and wife team have become two of the most prominent personalities in the horror community. Together they have an extensive bibliography putting in over a decade with the legendary Fangoria, writing for Blumhouse and hosting the Our Strange World podcast together. That isn’t to say the two aren’t impressive on their own merits. Rebekah is not only a podcast host for Blumhouse’s Shock Waves podcast but she is also a professor of cinema studies. Meanwhile David has not only directed music videos for GWAR and Municipal Waste but also contributed to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Anthology Volumes 1 and 2. Needless to say the two are perhaps the most qualified people to never helm a horror movie. After several short films the two direct their first feature film, the horror anthology All the Creatures Were Stirring.
It’s Christmas Eve and it’s unusually quiet in Southern California. With all of the typical date spots closed for the holiday Max and Jenna (Graham Skipper and Ashley Clements) go to the only place open, a tiny independent theater. What seems like just another bad date takes a turn and becomes a journey into the darker side of Christmas. With only a rude attendant and an odd audience with them the two are seated for a play entitled All the Creatures Were Stirring.
As hyperbolic as it may sound this wraparound is one of the best I’ve seen in quite some time. Certainly, more original than some of it’s bigger budget brethren. Each story presented as a trio of actors with DIY effects acting out each story. Not only is it original but it uses a variety of sight gags that set the darkly comic and surrealist tone in each short. The first one of them being Stockings Were Hung.
Stockings Were Hung-
Office Christmas parties are awful but rarely are they as bad as the one in Stockings Were Hung. Stuck at the office for a party they don’t want to go to the festivities come to a screeching halt when a mysterious voice forces these co-workers. Part Saw and part Would You Rather, Stockings Were Hung does a great job building on the tension off the politics inherent with any office job. Between the realistic characters and some surprising kills, Stockings Were Hung will have you rethinking your job’s next team building effort.
Dash All Away-
There’s nothing worse than last minute shopping. Even worse, being one of the few stragglers left in the parking lot. When a father is stuck at the store he meets two young women that will change his life. The most terrifying of the shorts, Dash All Away is the perfect showcase for the McKendrys. The duo do a magnificent job taking something specifically Christmas without covering well-trodden territory. It’s refreshing when most Christmas-based horror revolves around Santa Claus. Featuring one of the most original creatures in recent memory Dash All Away make sure you never shop at the last minute again
All Through the House-
Few Christmas stories are as iconic as A Christmas Carol. The tale of Ebenzer Scrooge has been told by Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner and even the Muppets. But what if it were set in LA? Of all the vignettes All Through the House is the most traditional. A twist on A Christmas Carol is hardly new. What makes it stand out is actor Jonathan Kite. Best known for the show 2 Broke Girls he is pitch perfect as a modern-day Scrooge. Vandalizing decorations and kicking out neighbors even his name is douchey, Chet. So it’s quite refreshing to see such an unlikable guy get his comeuppance. Thanks to a standout performance and a killer script All Through the House is a fresh take on a tale we’ve heard way too many times.
Arose Such A Clatter-
What would a good horror anthology be without a slasher? In a clever twist on Santa’s reindeer Rudolph is out for revenge after Blitzen is hit by a car. Taking inspiration from Italian giallos, Arose Such A Clatter is the most interesting short to look at. With enough deep blues and reds to make Dario Argento proud the McKendrys do a good job giving Arose Such A Clatter the dreamlike feel this kind of short needs. If there is a problem it’s that the movie’s microbudget is most evident here with Rudolph never really being seen outside of a first person pov. It isn’t a deal breaker but it is noticeable. Aside from that Arose Such A Clatter is a killer tribute to the Italian horror of old.
In A Twinkling-
We all know someone who isn’t into the holidays. That one person who would rather be alone than go with family or friends. But what if they had a good reason? That’s the question the McKendrys ask with In A Twinkling. Starring Constance Wu (Jessica on Fresh Off the Boat) In A Twinkling is almost a sequel to the MST3K classic, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with the aliens abducting someone to celebrate Christmas with each year. Wu absolutely stands out as an understanding, if earnest, girlfriend stuck in this situation straight out of The Outer Limits. Her confusion and frustration being completely understandable. While not the scariest In A Twinkling sticks out as the funniest short largely in part to the always great Constance Wu and a humorous, subversive script.
All the Creatures Were Stirring is a worthy addition to the pantheon of holiday horror movies. It has the twisted humor of Krampus, the terror of Black Christmas and the macabre mayhem of Silent Night, Deadly Night. What it lacks in budget is made up for in an obvious passion for the genre. Each short taking a horror trope and doing something we have never seen before. With something for all shades of horror fan All the Creatures Were Stirring is sure to become required viewing come Christmas time.