Tales of the holiday season are meant to instill idyllic wonderlands filled with joy, celebration, and unity. Santa Claus and his eight magic reindeer take over the sky, gifts are bought and wrapped by the millions, and traditions are lovingly carried on through each generation. One of Christmas’ many glories is its relative, nostalgic aura that seems to feel new every year. We know what to expect when December rolls around, but there’s always a hint of unexpected excitement in the air. Directors and writers Rebekah and David Ian McKendry are familiar with that particular spirit, yet dare to explore the creepier side of Christmas in their debut horror anthology All The Creatures Were Stirring.
The husband and wife duo have brought the very best of the holidays and the very scariest of horror together to create some seriously twisted Christmas Eve situations including a monotonous office party that turns deadly, a scrooge who faces a harsh reality, festive extraterrestrials, a reindeer with an antler to grind, and so much more! Classic themes of terror (and a few new ones) run amok while the best and worst elements of Christmas time make this unique addition a bright light in the strand of the holiday-horror genre.
With a talented bill of actors including Morgan Peter Brown (Ouija), Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians), Matt Long (Helix), Jonathon Kite (2 Broke Girls), Amanda Fuller (Starry Eyes), Jocelin Donahue (House Of The Devil), Brea Grant (Beyond The Gates), and Mark Kelly (Dismissed), All The Creatures Were Stirring stands firmly before audiences as a quirky, dark humor. Though some classic horror components are proudly presented as inspiration, modern themes and motifs take center stage.
All five of the segments are written by the McKendry’s, but each is lovingly personalized like individual gifts placed beneath the tree. The tone, look, and even style of the stories vary expertly, yet the run of the film remains enjoyably fluid. The McKendry’s not only adorn their film with the lights, sounds, and styles of the season we hold dear, but know and apply their love of horror with gusto. Cinematographer Cameron Cannon (The Dump) easily grabs viewers from the initial brief, yet awesome opening credits sequence. An awkward first date of sorts pulls the viewers in further as the two attend a theatrical version of the anthology before us. Like the odd interpretive presentations of the segments, the intrigue is immediately palpable.
All The Creatures Were Stirring is aware of its audience, pays homage to recognizable works, and effectively consumes its 80-minute runtime with new, fun holiday-horror content. Like with most anthologies there are segments one may favor over others and we may find fault in the premises lacking, but in the grand scheme of this type of film format we have to keep purpose in mind. While I wanted more of “In a Twinkling”, and “The Stockings Were Hung”, the segment with the most potential to be a standalone film, I know the craft of an anthology piece as are the McKendry’s. Wanting more of something and getting it in the horror genre is not necessarily a perfect gift. These five stories are not meant to provide groundbreaking dialogue, provoke ambitious analysis, or keep us awake at night. These clever shorts are simply meant to be enjoyed separately and as a whole for what they are.
While we could hold it against the very few great anthologies that are out there, I feel no need to draw comparisons. Why not be appreciative of the gifts we are given regardless of the price tag attached to it? This is not a big-budget production so it would be unfair to measure it as so. Instead, All The Creatures Were Stirring comes directly from the hearts of two people who not only contribute to the film genre and horror community, but are, like us, true fans of both.
The McKendry’s know the value of a personal gift over a cheap, commercially manufactured one and All The Creatures Were Stirring is the best gift to open early. Find it on VOD, Digital and DVD now and on Shudder on December 13th!
‘All The Creatures Were Stirring’ Delivers Inspired Gifts Of Humor And Horror For The Holidays [Review]
In a genre where both anthology collections and holiday themes are a hit or miss, All The Creatures Were Stirring manages to wrap up both with a bright ribbon. The McKendry’s know the true meaning of Christmas… and horror.