Last year’s LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special was a breath of fresh air for a franchise struggling to find its feet following the calamity of The Rise of Skywalker. Rather than pushing the boat out, it played it safe, functioning as a greatest-hits of the saga through a bubbly time-travel conceit. Nearly a year on and LEGO Star Wars is back for another seasonal special, this time exploring the saga’s darker side. While Terrifying Tales isn’t quite as endearing and refreshing as its predecessor, the creativity of its anthology stories are a very welcome addition.

(C) Disney, Lucasfilm

The special takes place after The Rise of Skywalker, as Poe Dameron (here voiced by Jake Green), as a clash with former First Order troops leads to a crash on Mustafar. What was once Darth Vader’s fiery castle is now a construction site, soon to be a lavish hotel run by the Hutts. There’s a sinister turn though, as Vader’s former assistant Vanneé (Tony Hale) tells Poe a range of creepy anecdotes to slowly unearth his evil plan.

It must be said that the plot which frames the three spooky instalments isn’t the most gripping adventure. Poe was never the star of the sequel trilogy, and the spark and wit that Oscar Isaac imbued into the character is sadly absent here. While the Holiday Special succeeded thanks to the interesting background to frame the adventures — as Rey starts training Finn to use the force — that’s sorely missing here. The subplot involving Vanneé isn’t as engaging, and you’ll have lost interest in these moments by the time his big plan unravels at the climax.

The good news is that the three separate horror stories seen here are genuinely brilliant. Each takes place in a different era of the saga, exploring scenarios that may or may not have happened. We start with “The Lost Boy”, exploring Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side. It’s a brief adventure, lasting less than fifteen minutes – but it still manages to use the Knights of Ren far better than three cinematic instalments ever did. Christian Slater does an admirable Adam Driver impression here, with this anecdote ultimately fleshing out the much-ignored backstory behind Kylo’s fall to the Dark Side really nicely.

Next is “The Duelling Monstrosities”, taking place during the prequel trilogy, as both Darth Maul and General Grievous battle to become Palpatine’s apprentice. Fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars will find a lot to love in the pastiche of the Knights of Dathomir arc, and some of the special’s best action sequences reside in this tale. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough meat on the bone here, and while it’s fun on a visual level, it doesn’t really flesh out Maul or Grievous in the same way “The Lost Boy” does Kylo.

(C) Disney, Lucasfilm

Last up is “The Wookie Paw”, which often feels like the Star Wars equivalent of Marvel’s What If? In this scenario, Luke Skywalker doesn’t bump into Old Ben and fight the Empire – instead, he joins it. With a lucky Wookie paw bestowing upon him all of his wishes, he fumbles his way into the Imperial fleet, ultimately taking a position alongside his masked father. It’s the only tale here that’s explicitly coded as fictional, but it’s a fun hypothetical adventure nonetheless, giving credence to the original trilogy’s themes of battling the temptations of darkness.

Overall then, LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales is a solid watch that attempts something very different with the saga. While we can’t consider the new lore expansions to be canon, they’re still intriguing enough for adult fans, and brimming with the slapstick LEGO humour that’ll appear to young ones. If Disney release these seasonal Star Wars specials every year, we won’t be complaining at all. Like its predecessor, Terrifying Tales is bubbly, charming, and a much-welcomed dose of Star Wars fun.