There’s nothing I love more about the Christmas season than watching all the films that are sadly irrelevant the other eleven months of the year, ranging from holiday classics like Christmas Vacation and Scrooged to horror favorites like Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night.
On top of that list of must-watch feature films is a list of shorts that I like to watch every holiday season, which seems to grow bigger with each passing year. Christmas is the most stressful damn time of the year, and it’s often hard to find the time to just sit down on the couch and wind down – and by the time you do, you’re too worn out to commit to a 90-minute movie.
And that’s where short films come into play, refilling your holiday spirit in a matter of minutes. Thankfully, many filmmakers over the years have told short but sweet tales of holiday horrors, and we’re here today to count down five of my personal favorites.
It’ll take less than 30-minutes to watch all five of these, so you’ve truly got no excuse. Read on for the list, and be sure to check down below for another five that are worthy of your time!
5) SLAY BELLS
A couple years back, photographer Ama Lea got into the Christmas spirit with Slay Bells, a five-minute short that easily could’ve been titled A Christmas Gory. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3‘s R.A. Mihailoff plays Santa in this gruesome slice of holiday horror, centered on young lovers who are brutally slain by Kringle and his not-so-jolly elves. Not even the kiddies are safe in this one, which is delightfully twisted in all the right ways.
We go from gory to downright unsettling with our #4 pick, simply titled Santa. Running just over one-minute long, it dreams of a James Wan Christmas, feeling very much like the sort of holiday horror film that the Insidious/Conjuring filmmaker would make, if he ever decided to make one. Directed by Dionysis & Manos Atzarakis, a young girl breaks the cardinal Christmas rule of waking up to see Santa delivering the presents in this short, and oh boy does she quickly regret it. You won’t find a creepier Santa than this one.
3) MY NAME IS KRIS KRINGLE
Nobody does short horror films better than Drew Daywalt, who has unloaded oodles of abbreviated terrors on the internet over the years. During the 2010 holiday season, this one debuted exclusively on Fangoria’s website, and it again stars Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3‘s R.A. Mihailoff as a killer claiming to be Santa Claus. But is he really Kris Kringle, simply carrying out the duties of his ‘Naughty’ list, or just a delusional psychopath in a Santa suit? You’ll have to watch this brilliant and terrifying four-minute short to find out!
2) THE WINTER STALKER
As magical and joyful as Santa Claus is, you must admit that there’s something creepy about him and his whole process. Between watching us as we sleep and breaking into our homes late at night, you kinda can’t help but be a little suspicious about the guy. What seems totally normal as a kid suddenly becomes highly unsettling when you get a bit older, and it’s that difference between a child’s perception and an adult’s perception of Santa Claus that’s wonderfully explored in this two-minute short, written/directed by Stephen Reedy and produced by artist Alex Pardee.
The reigning king of holiday horror shorts is without a doubt Treevenge, directed by Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener. Before he directed Hobo with a Shotgun, Eisener made this short film in 2008, which at 16-minutes in length is quite a bit longer than the others on this list. The tale of Christmas trees exacting revenge on us humans, who have been cruelly cutting them down and decorating them all these years, Treevenge is utterly brilliant, and well worth the time. If this one is someday expanded into a feature, I think we’ll all have a new favorite holiday horror classic.
HONORABLE MENTION: M IS FOR MERRY CHRISTMAS
Mexican filmmaker Daniel Piza Ruiz went in a totally different direction than everyone else who’s ever made a Christmas-themed horror film with his short M is for Merry Christmas, a submission in the ABCs of Death 2 ‘Find a Director Challenge,’ held last year. Rather than Santa being evil, it’s a seemingly-innocent young boy wielding the deadly weapons in this one, fed up with the jolly fat man bringing him crappy gifts year after year. By the time he’s done, Christmas just might be cancelled… FOREVER!
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