When John Carpenter’s “Halloween” became a surprise hit in 1978, producers flooded the market with holiday-themed slashers. That’s the roundabout inspiration for the horror anthology “Holidays,” which otherwise has no explanatory framing device or through-story. The film is just one short after another, set at St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, etc.
As is usually the case with these kinds of projects, the quality fluctuates. The most famous writer-director here, geek auteur Kevin Smith, is responsible for the worst entry: a slight, gross, unfunny Halloween-themed piece about “cam girls” who torture their obnoxious boss.
“The Pact” director Nicholas McCarthy helms the best, “Easter,” which sees a skittish tyke meeting a grotesque Easter Bunny that produces baby chicks out of the Christ-like gaping crucifixion wounds in his paws.
But the imaginative weirdness of “Easter” gets rarer and rarer as “Holidays” grinds on. Early shorts like “St. Patrick’s Day” and “Mother’s Day” avoid the usual slasher clichés and deal with paganism and the anxieties of pregnant women, while Anthony Scott Burns’ “Father’s Day” is a curiously elliptical piece about a daughter following the possibly dangerous recorded instructions of her dead dad.
The rest waste better-than-average production values and decent casts on uninspired nihilism and cheap irony. The film mostly feels perfunctory and awkward — like calling home at Christmas.
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica.