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A Christmas Horror Story tells four tales of horror that befall a small town. One story tells of a couple who inadvertently brings an evil changeling into their home disguised as their young son. Another tale concerns a jaded family that falls victim to Krampus. The third is about a group of teenage ghost hunters in a locked up school. And the main feature of the film is a Santa Claus versus evil, zombie elves story that winds up being connected to the movie’s wraparound.

This isn’t exactly an anthology film, but each of the four shorts presented in A Christmas Horror Story are all singularly individual while still being loosely connected by taking place in the same small town. William Shatner sits in as the local radio host and he keeps the mood light as each of the horror tales do their thing. Tonally the movie is an odd mix of small town horror and hyper violent fantasy, especially when we spend so much of the film’s running time in a greenscreen Santa’s castle while Father Christmas chops evil elves to pieces.

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The Shatner scenes are fine and the filmmakers give him room to breathe and play casual, acting as the town’s radio DJ. The Santa stuff is pretty far out there and when the dialogue gets excessively crass, the humor of the sequence falls flat. The family being hunted by the Krampus beast is decent and the teens in the haunted school story has some worthwhile moments of shock. The story of the family that brings back the changeling disguised as their son is well done and tonally more dramatic than the rest of the movie, but it stands out as one of the most engaging.

A Christmas Horror Story isn’t all bad, but for the most part it is underwhelming. The ideas behind the film seem thrown together and if it weren’t for the way each short story cuts to scenes of the next and then back again, there would be very little to connect any of the tales narratively. The reveal at the end of why the Santa Claus fantasy is even in the film is a good touch, but overall this is a movie compiled of too many different elements that struggle to work well together.

Hawkins’ Rating:

Out of a Possible 5 Stars

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