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13 Slays Till X-Mas (Review)

Prey Christmas doesn’t come early

Director(s) – Brittany Blanton (Breaking Vera, Ambrosia), Sean Blevins (Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, A Brush with Death), Jed Brian (Unlisted Owner, Trick Not Treat), Shawn Burkett (Don’t Fuck in the Woods, Bludgeon), Williams Capps (Hazard, After the Slasher), and Alexander Clark, Carlos Omar De Leon (They Return, KAL: The Clown), John Hale III (10/31 Part II, The Conduit), Blair Hoyle (Happy Endings are a Rarity, Feed), Eric Huskisson, Robert Kern III, Drew Marvick (Scared to Death, Pool Party Massacre), John Mason (Truth or Dare, Sleep Tight), P.J. Starks (Volumes of Blood, The Preylude), and Julie Streble
Starring – Jeffrey Reddick (Day of the Dead, Deathcember), Sadie Katz (Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort, Blood Feast), and Jessica Anderson (Trailer Park Boys: Out of the Park, Bettor Days)
Release Date – 2020
Rating – 2.5/5

Many years ago I befriended filmmaker and producer P.J. Starks on Facebook when I reviewed his horror anthology Volumes of Blood and the sequel. That friendship lead me to befriending Justin Seaman who directed The Barn before creating the indie distribution label Scream Team Releasing. I’ve been a major fan of this label and I’ve collected every release regardless of the film.

Over the years Starks’ Volumes of Blood has been releases along with another anthology film that he produced and directed a segment for called 13 Slays Till X-Mas. I purchased the film when it was made available sometime back but I never got to watch it until this holiday seasons.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of undesirables who meet in the local bar during Christmas. They start telling horror stories to one another, paying tribute to an old tradition, with no idea as to why they are there but soon an unknown woman appears revealing the horrible reason they find themselves there. **Spoiler Alert**

I was really looking forward to this holiday treat especially considering I’m a fan of several of the filmmakers involved. Shawn Burkett, Brittany Blanton, John Hale, Drew Marvick, and P.J. Starks are all filmmakers that I am very familiar with and respect. However, I’m not too familiar with the other filmmakers with the film and it seems that this anthology just wasn’t as fun and consistent as I had hoped for.

The acting in this one is the only aspect that is consistent throughout. Every segment featured a strong cast overflowing with memorable performances and fantastic acting. This is one of the reasons I love indie horror films. Everyone involved is passionate about the project and brings a lot of energy and dedication to their roles.

The stories for this one is hit or miss with me. Some were bloody good fun with a lot of originality while others felt rushed and out of place. The wraparound segment works as a way to hold the segments together. Following a group of people as they tell horror story to one another fits the Christmas motif especially when you connect it to the long lost tradition of telling ghost stories during the holidays. However, the anthology doesn’t really start on the right foot with the first segment being very underwhelming.

The following tale, about a father and daughter grieving through the holiday has some great atmosphere and tension but the story is lacking. In fact, I found the film to be underwhelming until the Blanton directed segment following a radio host who suspects he is being replaced by the much younger host. From this point forward we have tales of killer caribou, Krampus inspired Christmas party, before concluding the wraparound segment. I really enjoyed the last few segments in the film but, to me, they were not enough to actually save it. Most of the first segments had interesting plots but just didn’t give themselves enough time to fully explore what they had to offer.

Finally, the film has some seriously bloody moments and great practical effects. We have some fun creature effects, most notably Killer Caribou, along with some gory moments scattered throughout. I really enjoyed the creativity and artistry that was applied to these segments and that even goes for the ones that I didn’t care for. Overall, 13 Slays Till X-Mas has some entertaining moments and plenty of blood but the slow start turned me off. I respect each and everyone that was associated with the film but this is one indie horror holiday film that I will not be adding to my annual Christmas viewing.

Written by Blacktooth

(Staff Writer) Lover of all things horror and metal. Also likes boobs and booze.

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