Worst Christmas Eve ever! That's about the size of it for a collection of small-town folks — and one yuletide icon — in the pitch-dark anthology film "A Christmas Horror Story." It's a mixed bag of supernatural terror that gains momentum as its loosely connected quartet of scenarios unfolds.
The rundown: Three teens sneak into their high school basement where two classmates were murdered exactly one year ago, only to unleash evil spirits. A mom and dad chop down a Christmas tree in the woods but find their young son has been replaced by a demonic forest dweller. A squabbling family pays an ill-advised visit to an aunt and locks horns with the mythical anti-Christmas monster known as Krampus.
Meanwhile, at the North Pole, the toughest Santa Claus (George Buza) ever to slide down a chimney must battle a workshop full of foul-mouthed zombie elves. Long story short: It's a bloody mess.
These creepy tales are nominally woven together by the stylings of a tippling disc jockey (William Shatner, in fine form), who spins holiday classics while updating listeners on the town's Christmas curse. That the radio station's spooky weatherman is missing will not prove good news.
Directors Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan have crafted a surprisingly good-looking, largely engrossing film. However, the script by James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor and Pascal Trottier takes a while to start making sense. Once it does, the result, light on logic and character development, is saddled by an inconsistent tone.
As horror movies go, this one's not especially tense or scary. Instead, it's eerie, provocative and at times ridiculously violent. The ending feels like a cop-out after so much creative mayhem.
"A Christmas Horror Story."
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes.
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8. Also on video on demand.