Santa Claus fights Krampus in this terrifyingly original Christmas horror tale

If there is any justice in this world, A Christmas Horror Story becomes an instant holiday classic. For years I’ve held Black Christmas (the original) as the standard by which terrifying Christmas horror movies were judged. A Christmas Horror Story is an absolutely perfect horror movie for the upcoming holiday season as it weaves several scary Christmas tales together in a perfect yuletide package. Held together by William Shatner playing a radio DJ, his character provides a common thread for these tales of holiday terror.

It’s such a wild, scary, fun ride that I hate revealing much about it. Half the fun is finding out what macabre Christmas elements are included its story. Undead elves, changelings and Krampus all come into play in its twisted stories. Not to mention Santa himself, struggling to survive a vicious encounter at the North Pole. This Santa is certainly capable of defending himself…with deadly force.

It is Christmas Eve in Bailey Downs, a quaint town celebrating the festive holiday in style. One year ago to the day, two teens were brutally murdered in the school’s basement. Three current high school students decide to investigate the basement, getting locked in by accident with no means of escape. In another loosely connected tale, a cop takes his family out to the woods to chop down a Christmas tree. What comes back may or may not be his young son. Another family decides to visit their estranged aunt looking for money. They didn’t bargain on facing a wickedly impressive Krampus, the demonic figure from European folklore that works as the anti-Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Santa becomes embroiled in a bloody life-and-death struggle at the North Pole…

What may draw the most attention from holiday fans and is definitely the most critical part of A Christmas Horror Story is Santa’s role in the proceedings. Preparing for his big Christmas Eve trip across the globe with his elves and reindeer, Santa becomes embroiled in a bloody life-and-death struggle at the North Pole…with nasty elves that keep returning from the dead. It’s a blackly comic thread in the narrative that serves as the film’s linchpin and signature moment.

Rarely do I come across such a superbly realized horror script that is this much fun. Credited to four writers and three directors, A Christmas Horror Story is a masterpiece of Christmas horror. It puts the Ho Ho Ho in horrifying for the genre. Genre fans will love its crafted feel as a horror movie that fully embraces the Christmas spirit in such convincing fashion. For someone that loves horror and holiday movies it’s a fantastically successful experiment melding the two.

A Christmas Horror Story is one of the most enjoyable, entertaining movies I’ve seen this year. This is one time where a blind buy is worth the small gamble if you have even a passing interest in Christmas-related terror. The film is so good that I expect an endless parade of sequels capitalizing on its name and popularity.

Movie ★★★★★

Great make-up @ 1:31:34

Image Entertainment releases A Christmas Horror Story in vivid picture quality on Blu-ray. The Canadian film runs 99 minutes on a BD-25. Encoded in AVC, the video averages a respectable 20.99 Mbps with no apparent compression artifacts. This is sharp, modern definition with unfiltered detail. Struck from a Digital Intermediate finished at 2K resolution, the source is practically flawless.

Despite multiple directors, one cinematographer shot the entire film using modern digital cameras. That leads to a consistent, seamless appearance for the entire movie if you make allowances for slight color palette changes due to setting. This is a film with dark contrast and slightly muted primary colors. Hints of crushing hurt shadow detail and delineation in a few scenes. A couple of dark scenes get a little noisy due to exposure problems.

A Christmas Horror Story isn’t quite reference caliber but is certainly a sharp-looking movie on Blu-ray worth the extra expense. Image has done a fine job from a technical standpoint, leaving the transfer alone. Framed at 1.85:1, the movie’s cinematography is effective at incorporating its myriad VFX.

Video ★★★★☆

A rousing 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is filled with the sounds of traditional Christmas Pop music used for irony and a sensational score from composer Alex Khaskin. The music and score are such critical elements to this film’s success that I can’t understate how much I like this mix.

Santa’s battle at the North Pole effectively utilizes the entire surround presentation in sweeping and thumping fashion. Employing discrete effects intelligently mixed in the sound design, the lossless audio works as the perfect accompaniment. Get your subs ready for this audio soundtrack that takes more inspiration from horror movies than a regular Christmas movie. That works to its benefit.

Optional English subtitles display in a white font.

Audio ★★★★★

One substantial making-of documentary is included as the lone special feature. What horror collectors will go nuts for is a fantastic embossed slipcover. As someone that isn’t a huge slipcover collector, it’s one of the best I’ve seen released in the past year with its sharp colors and raised picture of Santa battling Krampus.

Odd Thomas Trailer (02:29 in HD) , Wolfcop Trailer (01:39 in HD) – Both play before the main menu.

Behind The Scenes of A Christmas Horror Story (14:45 in HD) – Director/producer Steve Hoban goes over the genesis behind this film and how he got roped into making this his debut directorial feature. Part of the team behind Ginger Snaps, Hoban explains he thought mixing Christmas with a horror movie was a great idea. This kind of featurette is far more preferable to a bunch of three-minute clips seen on other releases. Some on-set footage and behind-the-scenes production videos are included as the three directors discuss their segments. Standard stuff but nicely put together without a lot of fluff.

Extras ★★☆☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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