Starring Constance Wu, Jonathan Kite, Jocelin Donahue
Directed by Rebekah & David Ian McKendry
Like the bottomless sack of presents that the fat man named Claus lugs into his sled every damned year, we as horror fans are repeatedly gifted to death with a barrage of non-returnable holiday fright-flicks. Tonight’s Yuletide dispensation comes courtesy of the husband and wife directorial duo Rebekah and David Ian McKendry – All The Creatures Were Stirring is the title on the tag, and sorry to say but I already opened it. Grab your goblets of eggnog, shove the sleeping grandparents out of the recliners and settle in for this review…oh yeah…”ho-ho-ho.”
Set up anthology-style, we’re introduced right off the bat to a couple, Max and Jenna (Graham Skipper and Ashley Clements), who will become the focal points of our wraparound story: These hopeful lovebirds are out on their first date, and an interesting one at that. Cramming their buns into the seats of a tiny stage-theater production, they’re witness to a strangely performed production where each story is introduced via title-board – the actors on stage are silent, the host herself is silent, and the crowd inside the dimly lit theater is…a bit peculiar if I may be so bold.
What follows next is a series of five short tales, each set against the backdrop of the holidays themselves (no specific commemoration, so everyone’s panties can stay out of a bundle), and I can honestly say that the first tale (“Stocking Were Hung”) is the gem of the production. We’re seated in the conference room of a Yankee Swap-styled holiday party, and as soon as the festivities commence, the blood starts to fly a la Saw – who will survive this brutal fiesta – it’s gory, it’s goofy, but it’s entertaining; and that’s all that matters, so stuff that in your stocking.
The next quickie (“Dash Away All”) follows an unlucky shopper who’s stranded due to locking his keys in his car, but thanks to the mysterious lady-duo willing to assist, this promises to be no ordinary rescue attempt…wonder what they’re hiding in their van? Hmm…a fun little diversion that gets its go-go juice from some fantastic creature makeup.
As we traverse further into the cold, dark, wintry night, we’ll be checking out “All Through the House” where a modern-day Scrooge gets a solid lesson in the appreciative beauty of the season of giving – this one just didn’t have the guts to keep me stuck to my seat, so I’ll advise you to pass on it like a dried piece of fruitcake.
Vehicular reindeer-cide is on the slab with the next short, titled “Arose Such a Clatter” – one of Santa’s most essential pieces of his sleigh’s powertrain (Blitzen) has just become fender-frappe, and Rudolph’s out to gain a measure of revenge. The idea sounded like a laugh-a-minute, but once this one wrapped up, I felt like a kid who just unwrapped a fresh turd on Xmas morn.
We come to the candy-cane-coated conclusion with “In a Twinkling” where a couple of dinner party attendees deal with some otherworldly guests who just want to get the lowdown on what these days in December are all about – fun for a few, but this one grew as stale as the dinner rolls left on the table.
I’ll give a HUGE star atop the tree to the McKendrys for making the most out of what they had, and All Tte Creatures Were Stirring is an enjoyable romp through the red and green division, but it lacks staying power and might not find its way off of the toy shelf when compared to the models that have more bells and whistles attached to them. I’ll recommend all jolly jubilee seekers to give this one a glance for a one-timer, but make sure there are some spiked beverages on-hand to correctly enhance the viewing.