Horror Club: All The Creatures Were Stirring
With Christmas just days away at this point, there's no better time than the next few days to enjoy some good ol' Christmas themed horror flicks, and there's certainly no shortage of them. From Krampus to evil Santa's to killer snowmen, there's always been a fascination in the horror genre with blending "the best time of the year" with scary, gory, horrific movies. But what I hadn't realized has been missing in my life all this time was Christmas anthology films. Well, that changed with the release of All The Creatures Were Stirring, a film set of five short stories that recently hit video on demand services. It is the product of Rebekah McKendry and David Ian McKendry - two individuals who have a history in the horror field - so going into it, you know this is going to be good since it was made for horror fans, by horror fans. The individual stories are all really clever, have a great mix of humor and horror, and overall makes All The Creatures Were Stirring an excellent entrance into Christmas-horror anthology, and is well worth your time and money during this busy, expensive season.
There is a great little underlying story that bridges all five of the individual stories together. Max and Jenna were destined to both spend Christmas Eve alone, so Max invites Jenna to join him at a very small live theater where silent actors portray very uncomfortable, basic renditions of the short you're about to watch. All The Creatures Were Stirring jumps between the uncomfortable theater setting to the actual films, reminding you that while you are watching a great quality horror short, poor Max and Jenna are have a downright dreadful time. But it makes for a great transition between stories, and while I wasn't the biggest fan of where their story ends up going, the brief scenes between the five shorts are definitely entertaining and awkward as all hell. But with that, we jump into our first story and probably my favorite of all five, "The Stockings Were Hung." There's an office Christmas party taking place, and it's as dreadful as they are off screen. Things quickly go from dull to dangerous as the doors get locked, gas begins pouring into the room, and employees are essentially pinned against each other and things go from bad to worse. The story is absolutely genius, and suddenly their office party becomes better than you could ever imagine an office party becoming! It's incredibly clever how this story begins to unfold, and the ending will leave you laughing as much as it will stunned; at least it did for me, I definitely did not see it coming! It was a great start to the anthology, and if what followed was even half as good, All The Creatures Were Stirring was going to be great - and they were!
"Dash Away All" follows up to the office party with a man leaving the store on Christmas Eve, presents in hand, trying to get home to his family when he accidentally locks himself out of his car. The store is closed and the parking lot is empty, except for one van parked in the very corner - two girls come out when he approaches the van and they offer to help him. He's hesitant to accept their help (besides borrowing their phone to call for help), but he ends up conversing with them too long and telling them way too much about himself - information that they end up using against him. There is a lot of building tension in this one as the film progresses, and the twist at the end really ties this thing together and in the spirit of horror, becomes absolutely terrifying. This is probably the most classic-horror piece of the film set, and the twist at the end will definitely leave you with a smile on your face as the film fades back to the uncomfortable play back at the theater. Totally brilliant.
"All Through The House" is probably my least favorite of the five films; that's not to say it wasn't good, it just wasn't as strong as the others in All The Creatures Were Stirring, at least in my opinion. It is essentially an updated, modern rendition of A Christmas Carol, and while it was clever, it was definitely the weakest of the shorts, delivering just a handful of laughs but not much besides that. But that's okay because the film that follows, "Arose Such a Clatter" picks the greatness right back up and takes a loved Christmas character and turns him into a revengeful beast. A man is driving when he becomes distracted and hits a deer in the road, but fails to kill it upon impact. After finishing it off, he heads him - not knowing that a red-nosed witness saw the whole thing, and he's ready to serve up some sweet, sweet revenge. A bloody, hilarious tale that will leave you begging for more! And finally, "In a Twinkling" is the final short story in the series, and it's another great one with a bit of a sci-fi twist to it. A group of the main characters friends show up unexpectedly at his house on Christmas, when he really didn't want them there - and for good reason: every year, he is visited by aliens who appear in human form, and they force him and his girlfriend to answer all of their Christmas-related questions. Trying to leave the room through one exit only returns you to the same room, so their best bet is to just answer the questions to quickly escape the intense interview. It feels very reminiscent of an old Twilight Zone episode, and makes for a really great final chapter to the series of films. As you can tell by these short recaps, the stories don't intertwine at all; in other words, there's no relation between the stories, they are all standalone short films but that is perfectly fine because they are all totally entertaining, filled with scares, laughs, and plenty of holiday horror. This is a truly great set of shorts that will make a great companion to the holidays coming up, and it will make for a great Christmas Eve viewing after all of your non-horror family and friends go home! Definitely check this one out!