Written and directed by the duo of David Ian McKendry and Rebekah McKendry. All the Creatures Were Stirring is a holiday anthology horror and is a massive disappointment. One that thinks it is smarter and more interesting than it is but is nothing more than a humourless snorefest. Whatever you do this Christmas, don’t watch this if you’re feeling a bit sleepy.
The wrap around story surrounds Max and Jenna who are on a date. It’s Christmas Eve and they’ve gone to a local theatre to check out a play. One called ‘All the Creatures Were Stirring’. The play is split into five different stories, which make up the anthology stories we will see.
Stories that take mundane elements of the festive period and turn them into horror events. It’s the sort of thing we see in shorts all the time and can work wonderfully if those involved really dial it up. Sadly, this is not the case here. Straight from the start, the misses begin with the first story; The Stockings Were Hung.
Here, an office Christmas party gets round to the exchanging of ‘secret Santa’ gifts and things go wrong. They’re at the mercy of a killer, one who behaves like a Batman villain and Jigsaw of Saw fame with his traps and demands that they play along regardless.
It really should have been a gleefully fun start but it’s so sour-faced, goes nowhere in the end and moves at a glacial pace. Get used to that… the slow pace. It’s easily this anthology’s biggest problem.
Dash Away All is arguably the best of the bunch as its simple premise and payoff is pretty satisfying. A story that sees a father picking up some last few bits for Christmas but under pressure to get home to this family, he accidentally locks his keys in his car. Forced to wait for help, he meets two young woman in a van who offer to help. The price is very high though. This is one that you wouldn’t want spoiled, the payoff is depressingly dark.
All Through the House puts a new spin the classic Dicken’s story of A Christmas Carol and other than a classy performance by Jonathan Kite, is tepid and forgettable.
Arose Such a Clatter is another one that should have been far more fun than it actually is. A man runs down a deer on a dark road and is then hunted by something looking for revenge.
Finally, In A Twinkling ends the play portion with a very odd story surrounding alien visitors who torment a man every Christmas. He’s learned to deal with them but when a friend arrives to surprise him, she ends up caught in the intergalactic web too.
If you’re thinking all of these seem so inconsistent, you’d be summing up the anthology overall. Hits and misses are expected but it never gets any less frustrating and here we have far more misses then hits. Even more so, as the wrap-around elects nothing but a shoulder-shrug and a head-scratch.
Somehow, an 80-minute movie feels so much longer. Everything drags and scenes go on for far longer than they should. You’ll find yourself constantly screaming “CUT” internally. It’s such a shame as the play concept is good and the cuts back to see the basic way the story is being told on stage is clever. Not only that, it boasts a really strong cast from a lot of underground horror names. The quality of the acting can’t be faulted, it’s is what they have to work with that is the problem.
To reiterate though, it’s not a terrible film. It just isn’t what it could and should have been. Festive horrors should never leave you yawning, this one does consistently.
All The Creatures Were Stirring
The Final Score - 5.5/10