The Advent Calendar
Dir. Patrick Ridremont (2021)
On her birthday, paraplegic Eva receives an advent calendar with strange gifts that get scarier along the way.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The Advent Calendar is a twisted parable about wish fulfillment and the price to pay to receive the unattainable, to receive your very heart’s desire. For Eva (Eugenie Derouand) her wish is to be able to walk again. She is a paraplegic, injured in a car accident that ended her dancing career and left her permanently in a wheelchair. The price for her wish… well, it’s pretty damn steep, a cacophony of terror, murder, and mayhem that may just be too high for her to willingly pay. It is within this narrative that writer/director Patrick Ridremont tells a new Christmas story using an old concept, the advent calendar delivering 24 different gifts leading up to Christmas Day, 24 different chances to let the genie out of the bottle and for Ava to allow the evil within the calendar grant her wish.
It’s not often that an entirely new concept is conceived in horror, but The Advent Calendar is an inventive tale that allows for plenty of bloodshed and heartbreak. It’s a movie that fully embraces the holiday season, with the Christmas tree consistently in the background and each day bringing Ava et al. closer to the yuletide culmination. It’s a delight to watch, with plenty of twisty turns, nefarious love interests, and stock market manipulations. Ava discovers that by following all of the rules inherent within the advent calendar that she receives for her birthday, she can regain the ability to walk, but along the way she will have to sacrifice enemies, friends, and loved ones. She also discovers that if she finishes the calendar, which requires that she eat the candy behind each door, she will return back to before she received it altogether, remaining in her wheelchair and erasing all of the deaths that have been required along the way.
The manipulation of time and space is done exceedingly well within the film, toying with the viewer but maintaining a consistent set of rules that prevent the film from being too hard to follow. In that regards, you can’t ask for a whole lot more from a smaller film, and Ridremont delivers a movie that is a fascinating slow burn that allows the audience to discover things as Ava does. She is never privy to anything that we are not and vice versa. When Eva walks, we don’t find out until she does. When she kills, it’s rarely a surprise to the audience because it’s rarely a surprise to her. The creature in the box is well-crafted, an interesting-looking behemoth that would be genuinely terrifying to encounter. The acting is noteworthy as well, each role being played to near perfection by the actors within. The movie is shot beautifully, becoming darker on-screen as Ava falls deeper into the lure of the demonic box. Everything culminates in an immensely watchable film that fulfills every promise of spinning a tale of Christmas terror, and while it’s not overtly scary, the “monkey paw” concept behind the film is one that would be hard to pass up if you found yourself in the same scenario.
There’s a lot to be said about wish fulfillment, as my previous reference to The Monkey’s Paw makes clear. There are plenty of movies that tell that same tale, the idea of “careful what you wish for” carried through by supernatural forces beyond our control. Then again, that is the entire point of a monkey’s paw, that it’s not actually beyond our control and the Being, whatever that Being may be, only takes what we give it. Ava can stop eating the candy at any time, knowing that her life will be forfeit but it will save the next target on the demon’s list. The question quickly becomes not “who will you sacrifice to get what you want,” rather a question of “when will you be willing to sacrifice yourself to stop it?” This enduring question has always come along with the monkey’s paw scenario, and Ridremont manages to spin the tale in a unique way. It’s an excellent film, and it’s definitely one that will fit right into your holiday viewing schedule.
Who this movie is for: Christmas movie fans, Holiday horror lovers, Chocoholics
Bottom line: Unique-but-only-so-much, The Advent Calendar puts a holiday spin on the old Monkey’s Paw storyline. The acting is phenomenal, each part played to perfection, and writer/director Patrick Ridremont hits this one out of the park. I highly recommend that you check it out, it’s streaming on Shudder, and if you don’t already have Shudder, what the fuck are you even doing here?