Christmas Horror Anthology—the genre alone is enough to turn a few heads, and the stories in All the Creatures Were Stirring will have you stick around to see the film through to the end. The production is campy, the segments are gory, far fetched, and unreasonable—which is why I love basically everything about this film. I like it when a film doesn’t take itself too seriously when you can feel through the screen that making the movie was fun, I got the feeling that that was the case for All the Creatures Were Stirring.
The backdrop for the film is an uncomfortable date between two friends Max (Graham Skipper) and Jenna (Ashley Clements) who are going to watch a low budget play because Max couldn’t find much else to do on Christmas Eve. The background story oddly enough gives off Twin Peaks vibes, from the creepy Older Gentleman (Ian Gregory) who looks like he’s about to morph into a Bob type character at any moment and go on a murderous rampage. The play serves as a way to connect the stories and give us title cards, and short glimpses of the play itself, which looks like it has the potential to be gloriously awful. The film has 8 chapters altogether, including the intermission. So let’s break em’ down!
All the Stockings Were Hung
This might be my favorite segment of this film. I’ve had to deal with my fair share of awful office Christmas parties, Secret Santa’s, and White Elephant games to feel genuinely sorry for everyone in the segment forced into dealing with this gift exchange. The realistic setting, dialogue, and story drew me in pretty quickly—giving me ‘Nam like flashbacks of sitting in a cubicle waiting to fake smile my way through another Christmas party that I’d rather blow my brains out than partake in. This particular office party so quickly descends into chaos though, that I don’t think I would have minded attended it. The segment is just long enough to give you a “Who-dun-it” vibe but not so long that it drags in any single scene. While I may be biased because I hate offices, and Christmas parties, and Dirty Santa, this segment still gets a 9/10 from me.
Dash Away All
Most people I know, including myself hate Christmas shopping, not that I hate getting gifts for people, I actually quite enjoy that. I hate going to malls, shopping centers, and dealing with people. In this segment, our main character Eric (Matt Long) is doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, when he locks his keys, cell phone…his livelihood, in his car. He asks two van dwelling ladies to use their cellphone to call his wife and let her know what’s going on. His night goes from stressful and annoying to demonic and absurd in about 20 seconds. The holidays are bad enough without throwing in flesh-eating demon Christmas characters—I feel pretty bad for the guy. The segment is humorous enough though that it doesn’t bring the tone of the movie down, it is, however, a bit short and will leave you with a few unanswered questions. Such as, ‘will Eric’s wife murder his mother for harshly judging her turkey?’ It’s a possibility, I’ve heard of Christmas dinners turning homicidal over less. This segment for me was a 7/10.
All Through the House
This film’s homage to Scrooge while a smidge hokey, is relatable for anyone that has a distaste for the years most commercialized holiday. The pressure is on for the last two months of the year to reconnect with your dysfunctional family, speak to friends you haven’t heard from since last Christmas, to buy gifts with money you really need to be saving for a new water heater before half of your house blows up. Yet we all still go along with it—well most of us. Those who don’t are shunned for not wanting to, and those who do often feel self-righteous as they fork over $375 to the cashier at Wal-Mart, for some strange reason. I’m actually on Chet’s (Jonathan Kite) side in this segment. Sadly the inevitable moment of Christmas clarity washes over him as he tries to reason with his television that he does in fact, have people who care about him even though he’s a Scrooge. While the 3 ghosts that visit him may have been real, it’s also a good possibility that he’s having a hilarious reaction to doing blow and drinking whiskey all night, either scenario is fine by me. “Oh yes of course. Drink and blow jobs, I’m sure of it” may actually be the best line in the entire film. This segment is a solid 8/10 for me.
Everyone takes a smoke break while the Older Gentleman continues to leer at Jenna, Max continues to be awkward, and the waspish ticket taker scowls at everyone.
Arose Such a Clatter
In this segment, we meet photographer, Guy (Mark Kelly) and model, Suzy (Megan Duffy). Guy appears to be finishing up making prints of Suzy’s latest session and heading home late at night when he hits a spot of bother. This is the shortest segment in the film at only around 7 minutes. It isn’t my personal favorite, but I do like the instant justice it gives the audience. Who knows if Guy was a decent person or not every other moment of his life, he acted brutishly enough in a two-minute time span though to be put on the “so naughty they deserve to be gored” list. Didn’t even know that was one of Santa’s lists, did you? Well now that you know, you have no excuse to not behave all year round. ‘Arose Such a Clatter’ gets a 5/10 for me.
In a Twinkling
As much as I’m a “horror buff” I’m also a “Sci-Fi Nerd” so this segment was a welcome surprise. ‘In a Twinkling’ tells the age-old tale of going to your friends’ house to surprise them with a lovely Christmas meal, only to have aliens hijack the party to try and ascertain why it’s so important to some humans celebrate Christmas. While these other-worldly creatures have some odd triggers, they do display wonderful manners and are more or less hospitable. They even bring a candy-stuffed turkey and leave a heartwarming note to Steve (Morgan Peter Brown) and Gabby (Constance Wu) thanking them for spending Christmas with them. As this story has aliens, humor, and is eerily reminiscent of how me and my own friends treat each other, this chapter and the first one are tied for my personal favorites. ‘In a Twinkling’ gets another 9/10 from me.
And to All a Good Night
We’ve come to the end of the film and play, what’s left to but to play the credits and take a bow? In a predictable yet still fun twist, the play reveals itself to be art imitating life, as the cast seem to almost warn Jenna that Max is a bit more than meets the eye. When the creepy Older Gentleman begins to laugh it makes you question his role. Is he omniscient? Is he the cause of all the chapters? Why does he have to be so off-putting? I like open-ended stories, it gives us a chance to figure out things for ourselves and use the good ole’ imagination. All the Creatures Were Stirring will certainly be thrown into my Christmas movie rotation. Will it make it into your Christmas viewing collection?
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