Deathcember is a horror anthology film that released in 2019 domestically and 2020 internationally. It is made up of twenty four horror shorts that take a look at the darker side of the holiday season. It was made possible by the collective effort of 24 different international directors.
Going into detail on each of the shorts would take far too long and I’m sure you’d rather just have my opinion on the film as a whole. However, I will touch on a couple specifically. Out of the 24, I have narrowed down the 5 that I thought stood out from the rest. Also, it’s worth noting that there are an additional 2 shorts during the credits which brings the total up to 26.
Each tale is introduced via the opening of a new door in an advent calendar. The CGI used is a bit dodgy but the idea is solid and matches the theme perfectly. As I mentioned above, there are five shorts that I found to be the best. The other 19 or 21 are either decent, average, bad or just plain forgettable. However, in all fairness I didn’t think any short was downright terrible which is pretty impressive. For the most part, they all present something interesting that is shot and performed well. I felt a large number of them just weren’t given enough time to develop and present something worthwhile. Still, many of them effectively take the usually joyous Christmas period and spin it into something twisted. Anyway, let’s get down to my 5 favourites.
Number 2 – All Sales Fatal
This one is a decent length and just good fun. A parody of every retail workers worst nightmare! Dealing with an entitled Karen on Christmas. Things quickly turn violent so expect some blood and decent looking effects. The whole thing has a sort of B grade feel but in terms of being entertaining, I enjoyed this one.
Number 5 – Villancicos
In my opinion, this is the strongest short in the entire film. This is how you do a horror short effectively. A young child tragically flat lines in a hospital bed while surrounded by loved ones. A parent hears a horde of carolling nuns outside and decides to bring them into the room. Their singing miraculously revitalises the child. However, as soon as they stop he dies. We see the film transition to various points in the child’s life as they get older and older. The loved ones around him get less and less. The nuns pass away one by one until there is only one left singing. Check it out to see what happens next.
Like I said, I really liked this one. Not only is the concept fantastic but it’s executed perfectly. Putting together the transitions must have taken a lot of effort. The whole thing has a very creepy vibe which made it difficult to forget. If you can only watch one short from Deathcember, make it this one.
Number 7 – Free the Slave – The Hunchback of Burg Hayn
This one is shot entirely like a black and white silent film so it’s unique in that regard. It focuses on a deformed man who is due to be burned at the stake. A member of the crowd asks the executioner to spare the man because it’s Christmas after all. It’s agreed and we then see the man having a fun time celebrating the festive occasion. However, he soon realises that the next day has arrived and it’s no longer Christmas…..
Number 16 – Milk & Cookies
This one is given double or even triple the time of some of the other shorts and it’s better for it. In fact, I reckon the concept would be good enough to turn it into a full movie. A young boy is having a difficult time with his mean father. It’s Christmas so his only outlet is to send letters to Santa to ask for help. He only makes simple requests at first. His Dad destroys his favourite horse toy so he asks Santa for it to be fixed and it miraculously happens. The boy gets locked in his room at night so he asks for that to stop and the next morning the handle is removed.
The Dad cannot explain what is happening to he takes it out on his son. Eventually, the boy makes the request to have his Dad go away. It’s then revealed that it’s not exactly Santa Claus who has been reading his letters….
Number 18 – They Once Had Horses
I really liked the vibe of this horror short. It’s shot in black and white and in the style of a western. It has a great comedic edge and the two main characters seemed to have good chemistry. Two men are left stranded in the wilderness after being attacked by some kind of monster. With only a campfire to light their surroundings they sit and pray for daylight.
As I said, these are my 5 favourites. There are others which I would consider to be good but they are few and far between if I’m honest. The idea of putting this whole film together is a pretty crazy undertaking. I’ve seen horror anthologies that contain 3 or 4 short films and there will be only one that is worthwhile. To have 24 + 2 of them and for only 4 or 5 of them be downright bad is actually impressive.
The final short I want to mention is called – Crappy Christmas. Now, I loved the Claymation style used here. However, the subject matter is just plain weird. The main character is clearly a young child regardless of the animated style. This short shows straight up child rape, I shit you not. Yes, he gets adequate revenge and the dark ending is fun. However, it took it too far in my opinion.
At over 2 hours and 30 minutes, I likely wouldn’t watch this again. It’s a bit long and the whole short movie concept wears thin pretty early on. However, I would certainly seek out the ones I mentioned above instead.
Overall, Deathcember delivers what it promises. Not every story is gold but all of them put a fun, horror filled spin on Christmas. If you’re looking for your Christmas horror fix then you can’t go wrong here.
The Final Score - 7/10