A colossally missed opportunity to riff on both horror tropes and seasonal sentiments, the only real triumph of the anthology series Holidays is how nine filmmakers were able to so cannily adhere to the same aesthetic convention. Every short exudes a commercially slick anonymity that effectively flattens any potential excitement. Only Anthony Scott Burns’s Father’s Day, which follows a young woman as she tries to relive a childhood experience she shared with her long-absent father, is close to a masterstroke, for suggesting such aesthetic slickness as a projection of a troubled psyche. The girl walks through an elegantly composed fugue state, an analog recording of her father’s discombobulated voice eerily guiding her to what seems like an emotional epiphany, but the short clumsily ends with the sort of stock freak-out that becomes another of the series’s organizing principles. Mother’s Day eerily and strikingly raises its punchine to a mythic grandeur, leaving its implications unclear, but even Sarah Adina Smith’s contribution to the anthology insists on framing its grotesqueries in relation to the female body. In Gary Shore’s St. Patrick’s Day, a woman’s crazed desire to have a child blinds her to the reality of what’s growing inside her and the implications of its conception, and in Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Carrie-indebted Valentine’s Day, the validation a bullied young girl receives from her swimming coach, who’s in need of a heart transplant, leads to one of the most explicitly preordained outcomes the movies have ever seen. Because offensive assumptions of female weakness drive too many of these shorts, and because the two contributions that attempt to refute such thinking either frustratingly position a woman’s retributive violence as a hypothetical (Scott Stewart’s Christmas) or abstract three girls’ sense agency through a jokey fixation on text-messenger taunts (Kevin Smith’s Halloween), it becomes clear that a more accurate title for Holidays would have been Misogyny.
- Vertical Entertainment
- 105 min
- Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer
- Anthony Scott Burns, Matt Johnson, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, Dennis Widmyer
- Kevin Smith, Lorenza Izzo, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Michael Gross, Andrew Bowen, Ruth Bradley, Michael Sun Lee, Ava Acres, Jocelin Donahue, Harley Morenstein, Kate Rachesky, Jennifer Lafleur, Mark Steger
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