Directed by: Sean Cranston
Written by: Bailey Victoria
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In this short film that's under six minutes, a couple takes down their Christmas decorations they reminisce a little as the box fills up. Another year in the box and the hope of a good year to come. While undecorating the tree, the wife (Bailey Victoria) comes across a strange ornament that has made its way onto the tree. The husband (Greg Brown) informs her that it was in the box and wasn't his. At this point, during the film's final act, things take a more sinister turn giving a new meaning to the name of the film.
Directed by Sean Cranston and written by Bailey Victoria, Holiday Spirit is a black and white title that relies on misdirection to get under its audience's skin. It's micro-budget and looks the part, and the story is more or less non-existent. The potential audience is led to believe this is a film that explores the memories of a couple as they pack up their decorations while, in truth, there's not a lot of memories covered. Not that much could be covered with such a short length. That wasn't lost on me.
What I did notice was that there isn't really a story being told. The couple finds an odd ornament, and anyone who has ever dug around in a box of decorations knows that that happens. But how does it relate to the story being told? It could even be argued that the twist ending had nothing at all to do with finding the ornament because there's no connection shown. The filmmakers could have taken out the strange ornament completely from the script, left the ending the same, and had the exact same impact. There's no explanation of how the two connect or if they even do.
It is what it is. Holiday Spirit is a micro title that feels like a practice run for a larger idea. I appreciated the feel and atmosphere and even liked that final moment. But connecting the dots was hard for me to do. Even the surprise "guest" at the end held no narrative value for me. There was no visible correlation between the ornament or the visitor. The visitor could have been Mr. Rogers and made the same amount of sense. I can say that there was no drag and the husband and wife felt natural, but as far as the story goes? Holiday Spirit felt more like an exercise in filmmaking than an actual short film.