Holiday Hell is an anthology horror that has stories directed by Jeremy Berg, David Burns, Jeff Ferrell, and Jeff Vigil. With a cast that stars Jeffrey Combs, Joel Murray, Jeff Bryan Davis, Lisa Coronado, and Meagan Karimi-Nase.
The wrap around story surrounds the owner of a very unique shop, one where each item has a story behind it. This is important for the shopkeeper who won’t have it in his shop unless it does. Played wonderfully by Jeffery Combs who hams it up as only he can.
On Christmas Eve, getting ready to close up, a woman enters looking for a last minute gift. As she browses the wares, Combs regales her (and us) with the story behind each item. Four in total, broken up with scenes between the pair in the shop.
Now before we get into each story it is important to note that this is not exclusively a Christmas horror anthology. A couple of the stories actually takes place across a number of different holidays including Valentine’s Day and Hanukkah. However, with the wrap-around story and a very Christmas heavy entry, Holiday Hell does have more to do with Christmas then many others with Christmas in the actual title!
The first story is called Dollface and surrounds a local legend that is revealed to be true. Unlucky for a group of young adults looking to have a good time. It’s a story we’ve seen time and time again but Dollface does it well. It’s just a shame it really struggles with characters and the ‘twist’ ending falls a little flat.
The Hand That Rocks the Dreidel comes next and certainly uses the Puppet Master series as its inspiration. The story seeing a ‘bad’ babysitter getting her comeuppance at the hands of a creepy Jewish doll. A marked improvement over the first story, the puppet scenes are excellent and while again, the story is hardly fresh, it is told in an interesting and engaging way.
Up next is Christmas Carnage and arguably the best one of the bunch. An excellent Joel Murray plays a down-trodden man whose wife can barely stand to be in the same room as him. Not only that but he is passed over for a promotion once again at work and has been dealing with alcohol issues.
Tasked with playing Santa at his work Christmas party. He sees his wife cheating on him with the man he lost the promotion to, leading to the bender to end all benders.
Gory as heck, Christmas Carnage is a bit more gleeful and certainly sees the cast having some fun. The sight of a drunk Santa going on a murder spree while spouting puns is well worth a watch.
Finally it is Room to Let that wraps up the stories with a disappointing entry. In it a young woman (McKenna Ralston) finds herself in deep trouble when she rents a room. The owner is part of a coven and has plans for the woman.
Slow (even for a short) and disappointingly bland, the only reason this one seems to exist is to set up the wrap-around story finale. Something that most will see coming but is still enjoyable enough.
A bit too hit and miss to be required viewing, of the four stories only two really stand out. Even the wrap-around segments are just OK and if it wasn’t for Jeffery Combs they certainly wouldn’t be as memorable.
The Final Score - 6.5/10