13 Short Horror Films to Exorcise Holiday Mirth and Cheer
It’s time we start discussing a serious problem in our community. Statistics indicate that sometime over the next week, 3 in 5 of us will be exposed to holiday cheer levels high enough to necessitate immediate and profuse horror film consumption to counteract the side effects. Holiday cheer is not something to be trifled with; holiday cheer is insidious.
In order to provide the most versatile selection of holiday cheer protections, these films have been carefully curated and organized by length. This should enable you to easily and expeditiously access the perfect dose of corrective holiday horror. Please remember, friends don’t let friends get cheery.
The films may be consumed prophylactically and as needed, over the following week to prevent the onset of holiday cheer. If this is not possible and exposure has occurred, a binge dose of holiday horror shorts may be taken in after no more than 2 consecutive hours of exposure. If your child has been overexposed to holiday cheer, it is vital you watch a short horror film before helping them do the same.
The following horror films depict acts of depraved and sometimes perverted violence. If that kind of thing bothers you, maybe don’t watch these (you could check out our less-gory but still-spooky animated shorts list instead). Extra Strength Treatments are things to look out for should your cheer exposure level be particularly high. Quotable Haunts are fun/haunting quotes, sounds, or images from the films that’ll stick with you and keep working long after the credits role.
1. A Luchagore Christmas (1:49)
A Luchagore Christmas is a micro horror film that pairs Santa’s naughty list with something akin to the Necronomicon.
Extra Strength Treatment: Since it’s so short, the film relies on tight storytelling, employing classically creepy sounds and images that ruthlessly scratch at your fight or flight response.
Quotable Haunt: The sound of Timmy’s name being crossed off Santa’s list.
2. The Winter Stalker (2:09)
The Winter Stalker should send shivers up the spine of anyone who’s been a little creeped out about that whole, “He sees you when you’re sleeping,” thing.
Extra Strength Treatment: This is one of several short films on the list that explore the creepy AF lyrics to some of our most beloved holiday carols.
Quotable Haunt: “Hi, Nic…”
3. M is for Merry Christmas (3:10)
M is for Merry Christmas is a creature feature that takes a humorous look at what what might happen if Krampas decided he’d like to be the good guy, for once.
Extra Strength Treatment: Poor Krampas has lost his will to slay and anyone that’s ever questioned what the fuck they’re doing with their lives should be able to relate to his existential crisis.
Quotable Haunt: “Have you ever seen a cup-and-a-half?”
4. A Christmas Treat (4:17)
A Christmas Treat is an 80s classic that warns us all why you should never spy on Santa while he’s working.
Extra Strength Treatment: The surreal ending to this film is not only perfectly indicative of 80s horror, but lightly pokes fun at the “tough love” style of parenting that was all the rage at the time.
Quotable Haunt: Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas) will be forever tainted in the most darkly delicious way possible.
5. My Name is Kris Kringle (4:55)
My Name is Kris Kringle is yet another example of a filmmaker depicting holiday lore in the most literal way possible to point out some of the sick societal norms under which we raise our children. And with fabulously frightening results.
Extra Strength Treatment: There’s really nothing to be said here but, “Think of the children!”
Quotable Haunt: The sound of sleigh bells on your roof on a cold, winter night.
6. Twas the Night of the Tree Beast (6:04)
Twas the Night of the Tree Beast is an ultra-violent exploration of the one true meaning of Christmas magic in our consumer-driven society.
Extra Strength Treatment: With allusions to horror icons including Hellraiser, The Bates Motel, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, this holiday short will reward observant horror fans for many repeat viewings.
Quotable Haunt: “Fuck Christmas…”
7. Invaders (6:12)
Invaders takes on the home invasion horror genre, but flips the script so we see it from the perspective of two adorably incompetent, excruciatingly polite pilgrims.
Extra Strength Treatment: The brutally humorous and fiercely clever dialog helps balance out the ultra-violent, bloodbath storytelling-style.
Quotable Haunt: That last thunk!
8. Dear Satan (6:22)
Dear Satan is an animated horror comedy narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart exploring what happens when a typo accidentally sends a young girl’s heartfelt wish list to Satan instead of Santa.
Extra Strength Treatment: Clever yet subtle details will reward repeated viewings. Keep an eye out for Satan’s tattoos and the occupied indicator on the door of his restroom, among other fun finds.
Quotable Haunt: “They’d all arrive and it’d be an afternoon of pitchforking pandas, again.”
9. Humbug (6:58)
Humbug is a horror comedy that pits our hero, a foul-mouthed goth girl, against a saccharin-sweet, holiday-obsessed Stepford Wife who believes holiday cheer should be compulsory, and she’s willing to back that conviction up with surprising brutality.
Extra Strength Treatment: This creepy little tale uses some overt (nonconsensual) sexual power play dynamics to rouse the sympathy of anyone who’s ever felt like the holidays were being shoved down their throats.
Quotable Haunt: “I am gonna coat your throat with Christmas cheer.”
10. 12 Days of Christmas: A Tale of Avian Misery (7:58)
12 Days of Christmas is an animated horror comedy narrated by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator and star of 2016’s wickedly dark comedy, Fleabag. The film indulges in the odd lyrics of 12 Days of Christmas, and imagines exactly what it would feel like to be showered with unwanted avian attention.
Extra Strength Treatment: This film begins as a dark comedy but quickly morphs into an examination of obsession, stalking behaviors that pass for romantic gestures, and birds — lots and lots of birds.
Quotable Haunt: “They say that you need to work on a relationship but when a guy starts actually sending you people as presents you know it’s definitely time to call it quits.”
11. Midnight Clear (8:29)
Midnight Clear is a surprisingly dark tale of spilled cocoa, infidelity, domestic violence, and how quickly our perspectives can change when faced with our own mortality.
Extra Strength Treatment: Consider this one a healthy dose of schadenfreude therapy and simply enjoy watching someone else’s family have the worst Christmas, ever.
Quotable Haunt: “I wish we had more time.”
12. Off Season (13:16)
Off Season drops us into a post apocalyptic world where an alcoholic searches abandoned summer homes for his next bottle of booze, until he encounters something that challenges his solitary existence.
Extra Strength Treatment: This clever tale juxtaposes the isolation of being the last person alive in a wide-open world with the terror of discovering everything you believed was a lie in a terrifyingly claustrophobic way.
Quotable Haunt: It’s actually going to be that visual at 10:35. Have fun with that one tonight, kids!
13. Treevenge (16:01)
Treevenge is the longest dose of corrective holiday horror on the list and it’s worth the time investment if tree torture porn blows your skirt up. The hyper-violent black comedy shines a light on the centuries of suffering and humiliation trees have been forced to endure at the hands of humans.
Extra Strength Treatment: The trees in this universe are sentient with pathetically squeaky yet subtitled voices that are remarkably Ewokian. They are cut down by the most disturbingly exuberant, wood-thirsty group of lumberjacks ever. The exaggerated, and sometimes sexual nature of the narrative anchors this film as a genuinely black horror comedy. Astute viewers will catch allusions to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Zombie, Cannibal Holocaust, City of the Living Dead, and Hobo with a Shotgun.
Quotable Haunt: “Ahhh! God-damned trees! Fuck!”
Featured image via Luchagore Productions.