For every action in this universe, there is an equal and opposite reaction; such is natural law. Garry Marshall quietly birthed one of the less-ubiquitous cinematic universes with his sickeningly sweet series of holiday-themed rom-coms including New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and the upcoming Mother’s Day. And in doing so, he sent out the saccharine cosmic energy that has now been transmuted into the joyless horror anthology Holidays, Tribeca Film Festival’s opening selection for their Midnight sidebar. This project, organized by a group of scary-movie stalwarts that includes Dennis Widmeyer and Kevin Kolsch (of Starry Eyes fame), Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), and Kevin Smith, must be by its very nature hit-and-miss. Unfortunately, the assembled talent racks up more misses than hits, and when Holidays misses, it misses by miles.
In the simplest terms, Holidays deserves the exact same review dealt to The ABCs Of Death and its sequel, V/H/S and its sequels, Southbound, and the rest of the pack of recent multi-creator anthology pictures: partly good, partly bad. The key variable is how much badness ensconces the good bits, and Holidays’ ratio is rather dire. It’s difficult to make broad statements about the film as a whole due to the huge disparities between its component parts, both in terms of style and quality, apart from the fact that each of the eight shorts sets a scene and then delivers — or fails to deliver — its punchline. A film this fractured and lightly gimmicky deserves a review to match, and so in that spirit: eight mini-reviews!
“Valentine’s Day”: The film beings on a relative high note with this sketch of a bullied high-schooler taking her crush on her swim coach a little too far. Widmeyer and Kolsch have lots of fun toying with lurid lighting schemes pinched from the dark fantasias of Dario Argento, even though they don’t quite suit the subject matter as well as they did Argento’s, and the dialogue bears only a passing resemblance to organic human speech. Props for somehow rounding up the biggest-eyed teen actresses in all of Los Angeles for this, though!